Two black voters in South Carolina are split on Trump — but they agree on one "sad truth"

Black voters on Trump's impact
Black voters on Trump's impact 05:09

Last Updated Feb 27, 2020 10:16 AM EST

President Donald Trump often claims black people are better off under his administration, citing record low unemployment numbers for African-Americans. Some black voters in South Carolina, which holds its state primary on Saturday, agree he has made the economy better, but others say his rhetoric has made the country worse for black people.

Mr. Trump's plea to African-American voters has grown stronger as Election Day approaches.

"I have been working to build an unlimited future for African-American communities," he said to a crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina in February. 

Robert Baker, who works as a corporate trainer in the mortgage industry, agrees.

"We have, for sure, the lowest African-American unemployment in history," Baker told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan. "When I saw the economy get better, I noticed my 401K. It's the first thing I said, 401K begins to grow, the stock market is growing."

Tonya Isaac said she's having a different experience. She works part-time as a home health care aide and is on public assistance.

"You have an endless cycle of when you get this good job, then your rent goes up. Then your food stamps are cut. Then your child care is cut," she said.

But some experts say it's about more than just the unemployment rate.

"The gap between white and black homeowners is greater now than it was since before the Fair Housing Act of 1968 when segregation was legal," said Adolphus Belk Jr, a professor of political science and African-American studies at Winthrop University.

Asked what that housing gap says about the state of the economy for black people, Belk said, "It's one of the reasons why we have to examine multiple indicators of socioeconomic well-being to get a sense of where people really are."

A recent poll found 84% of black voters disapprove of Mr. Trump's job in office, and according to a January Washington Post-Ipsos poll, 83% of black Americans believe the president is a racist.

Baker said he believes the president has made racist remarks, but does not believe he is a racist. "I've called white people honky. I ain't racist," he said. 

Isaac, however, said she thinks Mr. Trump is racist.

"The way that he talks, the way — the things that he has said … has pushed people to the point that they feel that they can just say and do whatever they want without any repercussions," she said.

While Isaac and Baker disagree on who should be president, both are concerned about the obvious deep divisions that exists.

Baker said when he told his 13-year-old daughter that he would be interviewed by CBS News as an African-American Trump supporter, she asked him, "Daddy, is somebody going to want to kill you?"

"It's — we're in a bad place," he said.

Asked what she thought when she heard the story about Baker's daughter, Isaac said, "It shouldn't be. She shouldn't have to worry … But the sad truth is, is because of our president, it is a divide."

Eight percent of black voters voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, according to a CBS News exit poll. Baker was not one of them. He was a never-Trumper who voted for a third-party candidate, but he said he changed his mind when he saw the positive effect the president had on the economy.