- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Black women can make all the difference in November.

They are the Democrats’ strongest voting bloc and able to tilt the scale enough in battleground states to make or break the Biden-Harris ticket, pollsters say.

African-American voters have voted reliably Democrat for decades, and it is Black women who have the highest propensity for turning out for Democratic nominees.

This year, Black women have the added incentive of being able to cast a vote for the first Black female vice presidential nominee, Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California.

“Black females outvoted Black males for the Democratic candidate every time,” said Kenneth Warren, a political science professor at St. Louis University, who has reviewed exit polls from past elections. “This time, we expect the same thing to happen with Black females overwhelmingly supporting Biden.”

Mr. Warren conducted a poll last month looking at minority support for President Trump in Missouri. He found that out of 42 Black women in his sample, not a single one said they would turn out in November to vote for Mr. Trump — a good sign for the Biden-Harris campaign.

However, that doesn’t mean they will turn out for Mr. Biden.

In 2016, the overwhelming turnout of Black voters who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 amnd 2012 did not show up for Hillary Clinton in 2016. That contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s defeat in key battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and Michigan, where she lost by the thinnest of margins.

Mrs. Clinton won about 89% of the Black vote in 2016, which is a large percentage. But it was a significant drop from the roughly 96% who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 and 93% in 2012.

Pollsters blame the lower turnout from female voters across all races for Mrs. Clinton’s loss and the fact that she was an unlikeable candidate.

This time, Democrats have Ms. Harris, a woman of color who is the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother.

Election analysts predict Ms. Harris will help win the Black vote in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, states Mr. Trump barely won four years ago but which put him over the top in the Electoral College tally.

Mrs. Clinton did not campaign much in the Rust Belt — skipping states such as Wisconsin — which critics have said led to her historic defeat four years ago. Mr. Trump was able to collect 46 electoral college votes alone from Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Yet, he won all three by less than 1% of the vote.

If Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris can pick off those three swing states in November, they likely will take the White House in November.

“If it just makes a difference of 1%, it would be enough,” Mr. Warren said.

Mr. Trump received 8% of the Black vote in 2016, which is roughly on par with GOP presidential nominees since 2000. President George W. Bush, however, increased his support from African American voters a few points in 2004.

Some polls in 2018 suggested Mr. Trump was making gains with the demographic as Black unemployment was at a record low. He also signed into law a historic criminal justice overhaul, the First Step Act, which garnered bipartisan praise.

A Pew Research analysis in June revealed 83% of Black voters identify or lean Democrat, while 10% said they are leaning toward the GOP.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, activists said it’s unlikely the president can outperform his 8% Black support from 2016.

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, noted that Black voters are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the ensuing economic downturn, as well as racial justice issues.

They also are turned off by Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, too, he told The Washington Times.

“America is in crisis. Black America is in a double to triple crisis,” Mr. Morial said. “These events are like earthquakes. It is like having three earthquakes one right behind the other.”

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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