Donald Trump performed stronger among black and Hispanic voters than Mitt Romney did as the Republican nominee in 2012, according to NBC Exit Polls.
Tuesday’s exit poll results have not yet been finalized but so far they show Trump outmatching Romney by two points in each voting bloc.
Trump claimed 29 percent of the Hispanic vote on Tuesday compared to Romney’s 27 percent in 2012. With blacks, exit polls show Trump claimed 8 percent of the vote to the previous Republican nominee’s 6 percent.
That means Trump — who called Mexicans “rapists” and “killers” — garnered more support from Hispanics than a candidate whose most controversial position was telling undocumented immigrants to “self-deport.”
Trump has frequently linked blacks to “inner city” slums and crime at rallies. Yet he performed better among African American voters than a considerably more moderate Republican nominee.
The exit poll results reinforce how the 2016 election flies in the face of political wisdom and norms. But it is also just as much a story about how Hillary Clinton was unable to match President Barack Obama’s appeal among minorities.
Blacks and Latinos were supposed to be the Democratic nominee’s firewall in the general election.
Clinton had historically strong support among both groups during the two presidential primaries that she competed in. And changing demographics in key battleground states were projected to boost her standing against a Republican party that was accused of alienating minority voters.
Instead Clinton underperformed in efforts to match the historic levels of support that Obama achieved.
The first African American president carried 93 percent of the black vote against Romney. Clinton came in five points below him against Trump. With Hispanics, Obama garnered 71 percent support in 2012. Clinton on Tuesday claimed 65 percent.
Factors could temper the results of the exit polls as the final numbers settle into place. Other variables in gathering surveys, for example language barriers for non-English speakers, also stand muddy the full scope of Clinton’s support among minorities.
But with a Trump presidency comes the likelihood he will face a deeply divided nation. NBC News Exit Polls also found that two-thirds of Asian, black and Hispanic voters voiced they were “scared” with the idea of Trump assuming the Oval Office.
Republican elites infamously concluded after Romney’s defeat that the party needed to grow more inclusive toward minorities. The GOP decided it needed to make inroads with Latinos or risk ceding all future presidential elections to Democrats.
Trump on Tuesday proved them all wrong.