Crucial To The White House: Young Black Voters Say They Aren’t Enthusiastic About A Joe Biden Presidency

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Written by Ann Brown
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Young Black voters, crucial to the White House, admit that they aren’t enthusiastic about a possible Joe Biden presidency. Question is, who will they vote for? Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Del., March 12, 2020(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden has a major problem. He has yet to engage the young Black vote. There’s no denying that the Black vote is a vital bloc for any candidate, but this is especially true for the Democrats and the lack of passion young Black voters are feeling for the Biden campaign has to be troubling to the DNC.

There are several reasons why Biden has not captured the young Black vote, experts say.

Countless numbers of young Black people have been protesting nationwide against systemic racism and police brutality. They have been calling for cities to defund the police, a concept Biden has yet to support. In fact, he wants to put more money into police departments. Activists such as Florida’s Dream Defenders are turned off by Biden’s idea to give more money to police departments for training. The Dream Defenders, formed in response to the killing of Black teen Trayvon Martin, endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary, TampaBay.com reported. The group has yet to endorse Biden.

A significant number of young Black voters have been attracted to more progressive candidates, like Sanders. While Sanders has put his support behind Biden, many of his followers have not.

“Biden’s support with younger Black voters trailing significantly behind that of older Black voters,” according to polling, USA Today reported. “And while polls show the majority of young Black voters support Biden over President Donald Trump, many are unenthusiastic at best or hesitant at worst.”

Young Black voters are going to have some reservations about Joe Biden, said Chryl Laird, assistant professor of government at Bowdoin College, in a USA Today interview. Biden represents “a very clear image of a status quo politician within the Democratic Party,” she said. Laird is the author of “Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political Behavior.”

Young voters want to be clear about what he will do for Black America.

“I think this is a time for Joe Biden to be explicitly clear on his stances,” said Stefanie Brown James, who led the Obama for America effort to engage African-American leaders and voters in 2012. “Don’t skirt around the issue. Talk to these young people directly, and then have policies that he’s championing to show how he wants to push for this progressive change to happen.”

Another problem: Obama.

While younger voters flocked to vote for Obama, they seemed to be turned off by Obama’s former vice president riding on Obama’s coattails, voter Paul Talbert, 28, told USA Today.

Even with their reservations, it is likely that young Black voters for the most part will vote for Biden — that is, if they vote.

“I don’t imagine any (young Black voters) going to vote, if they are planning to vote, and voting for Donald Trump,” Laird said, adding that they will likely vote for Biden but not be happy about it.

Among Black voters from ages 18 to 29, 68 percent said they planned to vote for Biden, according to an analysis from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape project published in May in the Washington Post. By comparison, 91 percent of Black voters age 65 and up said they plan to vote for Biden. Still, this less than the 2016 election when Democrat Hillary Clinton drew 85 percent of young Black voter support. Today, 13 percent of Black voters ages 18 to 29 said they plan to vote for Trump, USA Today reported.

Young Black voters are also worried by Biden’s aggressive support of the 1994 crime legislation that authorized billions of dollars in funding for more police and prisons. The 1994 crime bill put a disproportionate number of young Black men in jail. Biden worked in the past on anti-crime legislation with longtime segregationist, the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, (R-S.C.), USA Today reported.

Additionally, many young Black voters disagree with Biden’s opposition to the federal government’s involvement in desegregation and busing

“Political strategists argue that for Biden to gain the trust of young Black voters, Biden must first acknowledge his past yet questionable position with desegregation as well as his past support for strict law enforcement policies and a criminal justice system that’s historically discriminated against people of color,” Forbes reported. “Trying to pull the wool over the eyes of young Black voters is a futile effort. A small dose of accountability and transparency may prove to go a long way in Biden winning the support of this group.”

Still another obstacle for Biden with young Black voters is his taking the Black vote for granted. This seemed evident during an interview with The Breakfast Club. Biden told Charlamagne Tha God, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”

Following this remark, Black celebrities Diddy and Ice Cube challenged the Democratic party by declaring they would “hold the Black vote hostage” unless they get solid commitments from the Democratic party that would aid the Black community.

“African-American voters, particularly African-American women voters, are crucial to the road to the White House,” Marc Morial, president of National Urban League, told USA Today. “I just believe that anyone running for president today is a fool to ignore Black voters, particularly Black women voters.”

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.

It’s not that Biden doesn’t realize he needs to engage young Black voters.

Earlier this month, his campaign launched a grassroots group called “Black Students for Biden.” The campaign also launched HBCU Students for Biden to activate student organizers at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the country, Forbes reported.