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How Did President Trump Appeal To Voters Of Color?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It appears that President Trump did better than some people expected with Black and Latino voters. We say it appears because votes are still being counted. The election results looked very different on Tuesday night than they do right now, and they may look different again. But we can say the president made a bid for Black and Latino voters and some responded, including in the very closely fought state of Nevada. NPR's Leila Fadel reports.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: This year was the first time 29-year-old Amanda Sandoval voted.

AMANDA SANDOVAL: I woke up early. I arranged for my mom to take my kids to school. And I got there half an hour early, and I waited in line. And I voted, and it was a huge moment in my life because this election is so important. It's more important than any other election in history 'cause it's going to dictate so much of our future.

FADEL: She's a Trump supporter, so is her husband. And neither of them voted in 2016. But this year, the self-described conservative Mexican Americans chose the president because of their anti-abortion stance as devout Christians as well as Trump's support of school choice and promises of a better economy. They're part of what may be a record turnout in Nevada. And in this purple state, Latino voters have been the backbone to every single Democratic presidential win here. Black and Asian voters are also key. And while Biden will win Black and Latino voters by landslides across the country, which could deliver him the election and Nevada, Trump appears to be getting more, not less, support in Black and Latino communities. Both campaigns have heavily invested in courting communities of color and Latino communities, in particular in Nevada. Musa al-Gharbi is a fellow at Columbia University's sociology department.

MUSA AL-GHARBI: It's a glaring indictment of the Democratic Party that in the midst of a recession and a major pandemic, that a lot of minority voters did not believe that their lives would necessarily be better off under Joe Biden than Donald Trump.

FADEL: Despite the outsized economic devastation, deaths, illnesses in the midst of this pandemic for Latino and Black communities.

AL-GHARBI: There's hardly a better indication of Democrats' inability to speak to ordinary people about things they care about than this - that in the midst of the milieu we find ourselves in, they still lost minority voters.

FADEL: Gharbi says minority voters need to be treated as the individuals they are - some conservative, some more liberal, some who want limits on immigration.

AL-GHARBI: People are less concerned at the end of the day when they're casting their ballots whether or not a politician likes them or is with it or gets it or if they're woke or not versus, is this person going to make my life - is my life going to be better or worse in the next sort of four years?

YINDRA DIXON: We really are not a monolithic group.

FADEL: That's Yindra Dixon. She heads MPower 360. It engages and mobilizes Black voters in Nevada. She's hoping for record turnout. She's a Democrat that runs a nonpartisan nonprofit and believes Nevada will go to Biden because of Black and Latino voters. But she says she's a little disappointed that her party hasn't fully figured out how to really engage Black voters on issues beyond identity.

DIXON: And so because of that, you can get all of the turnout that you want, but you're seeing the results of not putting in the work to engage them when it's the off-cycle, to inform them and educate them about issues, to make sure that you're actually connecting to the pain that they're having at the time and you're able to turn that into Democratic results.

FADEL: She says voters she engaged said racial justice was important because it's been a fight every generation battles, a given. But most important to the voters she spoke to on Election Day were health care, education, jobs. So the political parties need to engage voters early and often on the issues that matter to them.

On Wednesday, she was waiting for election results and paying poll workers and canvassers.

DIXON: You're so welcome. Thank you so much for everything. I appreciate it.

FADEL: Among them was Dante Walker. The 21-year-old almost didn't vote. He jokes that he was like the people he ended up trying to convince to cast their ballots.

DANTE WALKER: I was like, I don't think I will have a voice or my voice will be heard if I did vote or it mattered if I voted. So that's why.

FADEL: He describes himself as very churchy - his work to engage voters, the Lord's work.

WALKER: I came to my decision because my pastor at my church, she said whoever spoke unity at the election is the one you're supposed to vote for. Biden was the first person who was - said unity.

FADEL: So he chose Biden. His cousin, just six months older, chose Trump. His family - not a monolith. And political parties need to understand that because even if Democrats take the overwhelming majority of Black and Latino voters, these elections come down to a few thousand votes in places like Nevada.

Leila Fadel, NPR News, Las Vegas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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