Trump Claims Approval Among Black Americans Has Doubled — Obviously, This Is False

How an apples-to-oranges comparison turned a 20 percent decline into fake good news for the president.


President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted that his "approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled" — just days after calling Haiti and African nations "shithole countries." Not shockingly, his claim is fake news spread by Breitbart and "Fox & Friends."

The false reporting appears to have stemmed from a Breitbart's writers misunderstanding of an analysis from The Atlantic. The Atlantic reviewed data that SurveyMonkey, which collected information by conducting 605,172 interviews with Americans over the course of 2017. According to The Atlantic, "black men are one of the few groups for which Trump's 2017 average approval rating significantly exceeds his 2016 vote share." In fact, Black men are far more likely to approve of Trump than Black women, 23-11.

While it's interesting to note, nowhere does it say that approval ratings and exit polls are an apples-to-apples comparison. But this did not stop Breitbart from misrepresenting the data to paint Trump in a positive light among African Americans.

Breitbart averaged the 23 percent and 11 percent support among Black men and women to conclude that Black support for Trump has doubled.

"That score averages out to 17 percent, or twice the 8 percent score he was given in the 2016 exit polls," according to Breitbart.

It is, of course, inaccurate to interpret numbers this way. For one, exit polls take into account registered voters. SurveyMonkey simply interviewed Americans, registered or not — a different sample of the population. And even if SurveyMonkey only spoke with people who voted, the number of Black people surveyed (about 19,000 men and 31,000 women, the New York Times reported after viewing the data) is significantly lower than the number of Black people who voted: roughly 16.4 million, according to Pew Research Center.

But Breitbart did not take any of this into account, even going so far as to suggest — without merit — that Black people lied in the SurveyMonkey survey: "It is not clear if additional blacks quizzed by SurveyMonkey hid their support for Trump, just as many middle-class whites hid their support for Trump during the 2016 election out of fear of punishment by pro-Democratic employers, peers, and activists."

Regardless, Breitbart took its false interpretation and ran with it — as did "Fox & Friends."

"Believe it or not, through all this negative coverage, they did a survey of 600,000 people about how Black America views this president. His numbers have actually doubled," said host Brian Kilmeade on Tuesday.

The SurveyMonkey data did not survey "Black America." If roughly 50,000 Black people were surveyed, this is only about 8 percent of the total 605,172 people who were interviewed — which is not even representative of the whole population.

And when taking exit polls out of the equation and just looking at approval ratings, Kilmeade is still off-base. Per the Times:

"SurveyMonkey's results, provided to The New York Times, show that Mr. Trump's approval ratings among black Americans actually declined from 20 percent in February 2017, his first full month in office, to 15 percent in December. (This is consistent with polling from the Pew Research Center and Reuters.)"

Gallup shows even lower ratings. In January 2017 Trump had a 15 percent approval rating among Black Americans. In December that fell to 6 percent.

Trump's claim that unemployment among Black Americans is true — but is by no means a testament to him. That rate has been dropping steadily since 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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