Black voters are currently feeling disconnected from the Democratic Party, a stark contrast from previous decades. Many feel frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of action on their political priorities and express dissatisfaction with President Biden, whom they helped elect to the White House just three years ago. Recent polls conducted by The New York Times and Siena College found that 22 percent of Black voters in six crucial battleground states would support former President Donald J. Trump in the upcoming election, while 71 percent would back Mr. Biden.
This shift in support is notable considering that Mr. Trump only garnered 8 percent of the Black vote nationally in 2020 and 6 percent in 2016, according to Pew Research Center. It has been nearly 50 years since a Republican presidential candidate won more than 12 percent of the Black vote. For Mr. Biden, this decline in support poses a significant challenge as he seeks re-election. If these numbers hold true nationwide in November 2024, it would mark a historic shift, as no Democratic presidential candidate since the civil rights era has earned less than 80 percent of the Black vote.
Democratic strategists view these polls as an early warning sign that Mr. Biden’s coalition is eroding. They caution that without an increase in support from this crucial voting bloc, the president will likely lose his bid for re-election. It’s not just Black voters who pose a challenge for the Democratic Party, as these pessimistic numbers extend to other core constituencies such as Latino and younger voters in battleground states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Some Democratic strategists admit that the Biden campaign has not been sufficiently engaged with Black voters and younger voters. The campaign needs to improve its outreach efforts and increase its support from these demographics, according to Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. The latest polling data shows particularly low numbers among Black men, with 27 percent supporting Mr. Trump compared to 17 percent of Black women. However, there are indications that some of the Black voters planning to support Mr. Trump might still be swayed to vote for Mr. Biden. Roughly a quarter of them expressed some likelihood of ending up supporting the president.
Cornell Belcher, a pollster who worked for former President Barack Obama, expresses concern not about a surge in Black and brown voters supporting Mr. Trump but rather about potential low voter turnout among these groups. Building a campaign to address this issue is crucial. While some Black voters express disillusionment with the political system, Cliff Albright, a progressive organizer, believes that the sky is not falling, highlighting that many Americans, regardless of race, are experiencing similar concerns about economic and global uncertainties. Albright predicts that a year from now, when faced with a clear choice, the 22 percent of Black voters who currently support Trump might have a different answer.
Black voters have traditionally played a significant role in Democratic presidential victories. Their support in South Carolina in 2020, for example, helped secure Mr. Biden’s nomination. During the general election, Black voters were crucial to his overall victory. Campaign officials and their allies are now aware of the work required to rebuild support among Black voters. They have launched multimillion-dollar engagement campaigns targeting this demographic, including organizing programs in Black neighborhoods, holding events with top surrogates, and advertising on Black radio programs that emphasize the positive impact of Mr. Biden’s policies.
However, some Black voters express disappointment at the lack of progress on their top priorities, such as student loan debt relief, affordable housing, and police accountability. They also criticize Mr. Biden’s focus on foreign policy over domestic issues and express concern about the economy. The Times/Siena poll reflects this sentiment, with 80 percent of Black voters rating the economy as “only fair” or “poor.” Some Black voters, despite their reservations about Trump’s offensive comments and legal challenges, still consider supporting him as a sign of their discontent with Mr. Biden and the Democratic Party.
In conclusion, the recent polls highlighting a decrease in Black voter support for the Democratic Party serve as a warning sign for President Biden’s re-election bid. While concerns about potential low voter turnout among Black voters are significant, there is still time for the Biden campaign to improve its outreach efforts. Addressing the key priorities of Black voters, increasing engagement, and effectively communicating the impact of Mr. Biden’s policies will be crucial in regaining support from this pivotal voting bloc.