Here
and
Now

opinions

Black votes will define electability for Democrats

17 Comments
By ERRIN HAINES
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to community faith leaders after serving breakfast during a visit to Dulan's Soul Food on Crenshaw in Los Angeles in July. Photo: AP

For all the strategic calculations, sophisticated voter targeting and relentless talk about electability in Iowa and New Hampshire, the Democratic presidential nomination will be determined by a decidedly different group: black voters.

African Americans will watch as mostly white voters in the first two contests express preferences and winnow the field — then they will almost certainly anoint the winner.

So far, that helps explain the front-running status of former Vice President Joe Biden. He has name recognition, a relationship with America's first black president and a decadeslong Democratic resume. Black voters have long been at the foundation of his support — his home state of Delaware, where he served as a U.S. senator for nearly four decades, is 38 percent black — and until another presidential candidate proves that he or she can beat him, he is likely to maintain that support.

In the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton held a strong lead among black voters over Barack Obama until he stunned her by winning the Iowa caucuses and proved to black voters that he was acceptable to a broad spectrum of Democrats. Those same voters returned to Clinton in 2016.

This cycle, many black voters are also making a pragmatic choice — driven as much or more by who can defeat President Donald Trump as the issues they care about — and sitting back to see which candidate white voters are comfortable with before deciding whom they will back.

At the same time, the early courtship of black voters, overt and subtle, is part of a primary within the primary that includes detailed plans on issues like criminal justice reform, reparations, maternal mortality among black women, voter suppression and systemic racism.

"As black voters and movers and drivers of national politics, our self-image and awareness of our power and influence is evolving," said Aimee Allison, founder of the She the People network, which hosted the first presidential forum aimed specifically at female voters of color.

Trump appealed to black voters during the 2016 campaign by saying "What the hell do you have to lose?" and ended up with only 8 percent of the black vote. But the Republican president again is saying he will try to win over black voters, frequently citing low unemployment and his own success in signing criminal justice legislation. So far, there is no evidence to suggest that he will succeed.

But the first test of the decisiveness of black voters will come in the primaries. African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population but 24 percent of the Democratic primary electorate. That number is more formidable in the early primary state of South Carolina, where black voters are two-thirds of primary voters, and in other early voting states like Georgia, Alabama and Virginia.

Biden reminded black reporters in a recent roundtable that his strength is not just with working class whites, but with the black voters he's known for more than half a century in politics.

"After all this time, they think they have a sense of what my character is and who I am, warts and all," Biden said. "I'll be surprised if you find any African Americans that think I'm not in on the deal, that I'm not who I say I am ... I've never, ever, ever in my entire life been in circumstances where I've ever felt uncomfortable being in the black community."

He acknowledged that his familiarity is no assurance of success. And he noted that black voters may ultimately prefer black candidates like Sens. Kamala Harris of California or Cory Booker of New Jersey. First, though, one of them would have to prove to black voters that they were viable alternatives.

Black voters can be decisive not only in determining the Democrats' nominee but also the ultimate winner. While Democrats have peaked in recent cycles with white voters at around 40 percent, black voters have been their most loyal constituency.

But in 2016, a drop-off among black voters had consequences. Black voter turnout dropped from 65.3 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent, and Hillary Clinton received 89 percent of the black vote, compared with 93 percent for Barack Obama in 2012 and 95 percent in 2008.

"It comes down to a strategy decision that campaigns have to make: Do they believe that the way to win the White House is to win white voters, or do they believe that the way to White House is to mobilize voters of color?" said Leah Daughtry, who recently hosted a 2020 Democratic forum for black faith voters in Atlanta.

"Is there a strategy that allows you to do both? Perhaps," Daughtry said. "But one is a sure bet. If you get us to the polls, we are most likely to vote Democrat. If you get white folks to the polls, you don't know what they're going to do."

In the past, Biden would have been a prohibitive favorite, said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. But black voters are demanding that candidates deliver on their priorities in a way they haven't done in recent history.

"Black folks are looking to figure out who white voters are going to align with, but I don't think that's the driver that it has been in the past," she continued. "Black voters, like white voters, are increasingly frustrated with the process. No longer is it good enough to choose between the devil or the witch."

Errin Haines is national writer on race and ethnicity for The Associated Press.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


17 Comments
Login to comment

At this point the only Democrat that has a chance of winning a possible sizable chunk of the Black vote would be Biden, everyone else, not a chance. Question is, seeing how senile, forgetful and what a gaffe machine Biden is do the Dems want to take their chance betting him? Even he wife was literally saying, my husband may be a gaffe machine, waffle on issues, but hold your nose and given what’s st stake, please just vote for him. You can’t get more pathetic than that. So Democrats are at a serious crossroads as who will be their messenger and who can get the Black vote and the only to muster a small breakthrough, Biden is their only chance and even if Biden is the nominee can he standup to the brutal beatdown he would get from Trump? In his current state and historical past that remains a definite concern for Democrats.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

With the huge numbers of black jobs created under Trump, doubt a percentage of black voters will be voting Trump.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Minorities, women, and the educated, all flock to the Democrats. Trump has the backing of Putin and the KKK.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Minorities, women, and the educated, all flock to the Democrats.

As well as Antifa and the socialists.

Trump has the backing of Putin and the KKK.

Ok, trying to have dialogue with the second most power nuclear nation on the planet and a small insignificant group of idiots wearing sheets.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Trump has lost the Black vote and the Hispanic. Now losing the white women vote. Down 5 million votes on his last outing and even lost the vote to Hilary then.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Trump has lost the Black vote and the Hispanic.

No, he has not.

https://spectator.org/why-trumps-approval-ratings-are-up-among-minorities/

The trend began showing up in surveys early this year and appears to be gaining momentum. Some polls now show his approval numbers at 25 percent among African American voters and 50 percent among Hispanic voters. If those figures hold for the next 15 months, they will render Trump unbeatable in November of 2020.

Now losing the white women vote. Down 5 million votes on his last outing and even lost the vote to Hilary then.

Uh-huh, the media said the same thing in 2016. Nothing new.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Trump trying to woo back the black vote and then he puts his foot in the dog pile with some stupid tweet.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Using surveys/polls at the beginning of the post as evidence of your position and at the end of the same post disparaging the accuracy of surveys/polls. Transparent.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Trump will be re- elected by the same people who put him in the WH in 2016; Putin, the KGB and the Russians. You don't lose the popular vote by over 3 million and get to win the WH. It doesn't happen. If Moscow Mitch refuses to let the Senate debate and pass the bills to protect the integrity of US elections, Russia will meddle in it again to produce the same results as in 2016. Mark this on the wall somewhere. Trump could lose the popular vote by 5 million + but the Russians know which states they need to target to change the results in favour of Donald Trump. American democracy is at the mercy of Putin and the Russians.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The article says.....

the Republican president again is saying he will try to win over black voters, frequently citing low unemployment

Under President Trump's administration unemployment is at 50 year lows, especially among African Americans and other minorities.

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/record-157878000-employed-august-21st-record-under-trump

President Clinton famously won an election by sticking to the mantra 'It's the economy stupid!' Trump did the same in 2016. Get ready for enough black and other voters to vote in another Trump victory. Democrats don't care about them, Trump does and has proved it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Heh, white people telling black people 'you have jobs, and that is all you are allowed to care about'.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Rasmussen ( they had it right on the 2016 election ) has black support for Trump now at

wait for it

29%. Anything over 20% for the 2020 election spells doom for the Democrat candidate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here's the link for the Rasmussen poll - not that anyone here will bother to look at at and weep, lol

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/july_2019/trump_support_up_this_week_among_black_voters

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here's the link for the Rasmussen poll

Rasmussen is always at the top end, often the top, of all polls in terms of showing Trump in a favorable light. Still, your link is an improvement to links to fake news MSM Fox News and disheveled headbangers in need of a bath.

@Bass

Are you saying that Trump would win more of the black vote than any democrat apart from Biden?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Strangerland

Heh, white people telling black people 'you have jobs, and that is all you are allowed to care about'.

There may be other issues of concern, but inability to put food on the table, pay rent and medical bills, etc. is a life and death major concern of unemployed African Americans (and others). President Trump has alleviated the the problem for multitudes of them previously lied to and abandoned by Obama and the Democrats. They and many more will repay Trump the favor in 2020.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Blacks are waking up in ever greater numbers and realizing that voting Democrat is not in their best interest.

Rasmussen is always at the top end, often the top, of all polls in terms of showing Trump in a favorable light. Still, your link is an improvement to links to fake news MSM Fox News and disheveled headbangers in need of a bath.

If you bothered listening to what the "disheveled headbanger in need of a bath" says, you would see that he knows what he's talking about.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Serrano

Thanks for the link. Spot on. The excerpt below accurately describes the positive sentiments many African Americans have towards President Trump and the feelings of betrayal by the Democrats.

President Trump triggered a media firestorm when he criticized a longtime Democratic congressman’s job performance, saying his Baltimore district is “a rat and rodent infested mess” and “the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States.”

> The president has since pointed out that many of the country’s major cities have similar problems, and nearly all have been run for years by Democrats. Democratic leaders responded by calling Trump a racist, but media interviews in Baltimore and elsewhere found black residents asking the same questions the president is asking.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites