Trump says blacks who stayed home were ‘almost as good’ as those who voted for him

President-elect Donald Trump said that African American voters stayed at home were “almost as good” as those who voted for him. (Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

President-elect Donald Trump claimed Friday night that African Americans came through for him “big league” in the November election and said those who stayed home were “almost as good” as those who voted for him.

Trump’s comments came during a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., the latest stop on an ongoing “thank you” tour of states where the Republican prevailed against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Nationally, exit polls showed Clinton overwhelmingly winning African Americans over Trump, 89 percent to 8 percent. Still, that was a somewhat smaller margin than President Obama enjoyed in his 2012 reelection against Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Exit polls from that race showed Obama garnering 93 percent of the black vote compared to Romney’s 6 percent.

“The African American community was great to us,” Trump told his crowd Friday night. “They came through, big league. Big league. And frankly if they had any doubt, they didn’t vote, and that was almost as good because a lot of people didn’t show up, because they felt good about me.”

Among the reason for Clinton’s loss was lower-than-anticipated turnout among demographic groups that propelled Obama’s victory, including African Americans. Trump, meanwhile, benefited from a strong performance among working-class white voters.

Michigan was among the industrial Midwestern states where Trump unexpectedly prevailed.

Playing up his populist message, Trump told the crowd that they had been ignored but would be no longer.

“People are paying attention to you now,” he said. “These people are talking about you every night. They never talked about you. They care about you now.”

President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a “USA Thank You Tour 2016” event at the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

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