In 2016, The Trump Campaign Actively Sought To Suppress Millions Of Black Voters
An investigation by Channel 4 News reveals that the 2016 Trump campaign actively sought to suppress the votes of millions of Black Americans, who were flagged as voters they wanted to keep from the polls.
Channel 4 News has exclusively obtained a vast cache of data used by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign on almost 200 million American voters.
It reveals that 3.5 million Black Americans were categorised by Donald Trump’s campaign as ‘Deterrence’ – voters they wanted to stay home on election day.
- The database “contains details on almost 200 million Americans, among more than 5,000 files, which together amass almost 5 terabytes of data – making it one of the biggest leaks in history,” Channel 4 News reported.
- An algorithm was used to sort Americans in 16 battleground states into eight categories, one of which was labeled “Deterrence,” in order to target each of the “audiences” with Facebook ads, as well as ads on other platforms.
- The “Deterrence” category “was later described publicly by Trump’s chief data scientist as containing people that the campaign ‘hope don’t show up to vote,’” according to the report.
- Black Americans, a community historically targeted with voter suppression tactics, were disproportionately labeled “Deterrence,” Channel 4 News reported.
In Georgia, despite Black people constituting 32% of the population, they made up 61% of the ‘Deterrence’ category. In North Carolina, Black people are 22% of the population but were 46% of ‘Deterrence’. In Wisconsin, Black people constitute just 5.4% of the population but made up 17% of ‘Deterrence’.
The disproportionate categorising of Black Americans for ‘Deterrence’ is seen across the US. Overall, people of colour labelled as Black, Hispanic, Asian and ‘Other’ groups made up 54% of the ‘Deterrence’ category. In contrast, other categories of voters the campaign wished to attract were overwhelmingly white.
- Channel 4 News noted that “The 2016 campaign preceded the first fall in Black turnout in 20 years and allowed Donald Trump to take shock victories in key states like Wisconsin and Michigan by wafer-thin margins, reaching the White House despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.”
- Trump’s digital campaign in 2016, called “Project Alamo” and based in Texas, “involved a team from the now defunct British company Cambridge Analytica, working with a team from the Republican National Committee.”
- Channel 4 News reported that two senior members from the Cambridge Analytica team are working with Trump’s 2020 campaign.
Cambridge Analytica collapsed after investigations by Channel 4 News, The Guardian and the New York Times in 2018.
The Trump campaign spent £44 million on Facebook ads alone during 2016, posting almost six million different versions of highly targeted messages that were pumped directly into the feeds of target voters across America, helped by a Facebook employee embedded within the Trump campaign.
- The Trump campaign has insisted it did not target Black voters in 2016.
Brad Parscale, the campaign’s 2016 digital director told PBS Frontline: “I would say I’m nearly 100 percent sure we did not run any campaigns that targeted even African Americans.”
But Channel 4 News has uncovered evidence that the campaign did target Black voters with negative ads designed to crush Hillary Clinton’s turnout.
- Specifically, the Trump campaign targeted African Americans with “videos featuring Hillary Clinton referring to Black youths as ‘super predators’ which aired on television 402 times in October 2016 and received millions of views on Facebook.”
In one confidential document seen by Channel 4 News, Cambridge Analytica admitted the Trump campaign did target “AA” (African Americans) with what it called the “Predators video” – spending $55,000 USD in the state of Georgia alone.
The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and the White House did not provide any comment to Channel 4 News prior to broadcast.