The Democrats have to be a bit worried. Sure, voters are saying in large numbers they don’t want a second term of a Trump presidency, but will they vote for Biden? The answer seems shaky, especially among Black voters who are turned off by the former vice president.
Here are five reasons Democrats should be deeply concerned about the Black voter turnout in November.
Although Biden is leading in the polls, votes determine elections, not polling.
Biden is coming out ahead of the president by 14 points, according to a recent New York Times/Siena College poll. The former VP is leading among women and nonwhite voters and cutting into support with white voters. But what about Black voters?
Compared to Trump, Biden does lead by enormous margins with Black and Hispanic voters, but he has fewer Black voters than Hillary Clinton did when she ran against Trump in 2016.
Sure, Biden will no doubt win a large majority of Black voters, at least 9 in 10 of whom have voted for Democrats in recent elections. But Democratic pollsters said “the party should worry less about Trump winning over Black men and more about those who are ambivalent about Biden and the party,” Politico reported.
Will worries about contracting coronavirus keep people from the polls? Will Black voters risk their lives and health to vote for Biden, a candidate they aren’t too enthusiastic about? The Black community has been hit the hardest by the covid-19 pandemic. While Democrats tend to benefit from mail-in voting, Black voters may not vote strong with mail-in voting.
“There are going to be significant group of voters saying ‘do I want to risk catching C19 for a Joe Biden protest vote, Obama/Biden 2.0.?'” Moguldom Nation founder Jamarlin Martin @JamarlinMartin tweeted. “The data on mail voting could be horrible for Democrats. The Black mail vote turnout will likely underperform.”
Black voters don’t trust mail ballots. That’s a problem for Democrats. Some Black voters fear their mail-in ballots might get lost or rejected. Also, African Americans are more transient than other racial groups and have high rates of homelessness, government statistics show. These are major barriers to mail-in voting, Reuters reported.
Looking at the 2018 congressional midterm elections, about 11 percent of Black voters cast their ballots by mail, according to Census data. That’s the lowest percentage of any measured group and less than half the rate of white voters.
There is reason Black voters feel their vote might not count. Mailed ballots cast in 2018 by Black people, Hispanics and other racial minorities were twice as likely to be rejected in Florida as those cast by white voters, often for missing or mismatched signatures, according to a report by researchers at the University of Florida and Dartmouth College.
Black voters support reparations. Even so, Biden hasn’t leaned into the idea of reparations despite his desperation to solidify a relationship with Black voters.
Nearly 75 percent of Black respondents in an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll said they believe the U.S. government should pay reparations to the descendants of enslaved Black people, CNN reported. Biden’s economic plan to combat racial inequality in the U.S. has no mention of reparations, Newsweek reported.
Young Black voters are not excited about Biden or his platform, according to several polls. Biden has a history as the co-author of the Clinton Crime Bill, which imprisoned Black males at disproportionate rates. The younger generation, though not even born during when the bill was enacted, is very aware of the crime bill and its negative impact on the Black community.
It’s crucial for Biden to meet with young activists in this moment, according to Stefanie Brown James, CEO and founding partner of Vestige Strategies, a community engagement firm specializing in grassroots and civic engagement strategies. This is “a critical year for young Black voters to be engaged and feel as though they are a part of the process,” James said. Young voters “are not waiting” and will “move forward how they feel is best,” James said.
Biden needs to be “able to say, in no minced words, ‘Yes, I know that Black lives matter because x, y, and z,'” said, James, who is also co-founder of Collective PAC, in a USA Today interview.
An analysis from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape project published in May in the Washington Post found that 68 percent of Black voters age 18 to 29 said they planned to vote for Biden. That’s at least 20 percentage points fewer than Black voters age 65 and up. And 13 percent of Black voters ages 18 to 29 said they plan to vote for Trump.
Compare this to the 2016 election when Democrat Hillary Clinton drew 85 percent of young Black voter support and won 93 percent of Black seniors. Biden’s not getting the votes because Black people like his platform, he’s getting the protest votes.
A recent Washington Post/Ipsos poll published in June found that 92 percent of Black registered voters said they plan to vote for Biden in November. But 50 percent of the Black registered voters surveyed said it was mainly because they oppose Trump, while 49 percent said they mainly support Biden.
Biden’s advantage over Trump with Black voters is currently smaller than Hillary Clinton’s was — and that’s not good for Biden.
Clinton was ahead of Trump by a 79-point margin among Black registered voters in the pre-election polls, according to a New York Times poll taken right before the 2016 election.
Trump’s small gain among Black voters doesn’t really matter right now while Biden has such a large lead. However, if the race for president tightens, Trump’s small gain with Black voters could make a difference.
“It could cost Biden 0.5 points nationally on the whole compared to where Clinton ended up. That may not seem like a lot, though it could make the difference in a close election. And, of course, Biden’s margin with Black voters may tighten further if the margin with other voters also shifts,” CNN reported.