Biden Campaign Beginning to Fret About Losing More of the Black Vote

 Biden Campaign Beginning to Fret About Losing More of the Black Vote

© Andrew Harnik

Black Americans have long been a dependable voting bloc for the Democratic Party, dating back to 1960 when John Kennedy intervened on behalf of Martin Luther King during an Atlanta sit-in arrest. This historic act, along with civil rights legislation in the 1960s, solidified black support for the Democrats.

Kennedy secured 68% of the black vote in 1960, a notable increase from Adlai Stevenson’s 60% in 1956. The Democrats’ hold on black voters steadily rose until Barack Obama’s remarkable 95% share in 2008.

However, since Obama’s 97% of the black vote in 2012, the Democrats’ grip on this crucial voting bloc has weakened. In 2016, their share dropped to 93%, and it decreased another 3% to 90% in 2020 when Joe Biden ran.

A focus group of black male Biden voters from 2020 recently discussed their feelings about the economy, and their sentiments should raise alarm bells for Democrats. When asked to describe their economic outlook, the responses were stark: “Discouraged,” “Pathetic,” and “Pessimistic.”


The president and other high-ranking members of the administration have been traversing the country in recent weeks, pitching the American electorate on what they have done to ignite a booming economy coming out of the pandemic. In addition to a record of legislative achievements like the American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act, Biden has pointed to the fact that unemployment has reached a historic low of 3.5 percent. That’s the lowest it’s been in more than a half century, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. He’s gone so far as to brand the policies driving the recovery “Bidenomics.”

One Hispanic respondent from New Jersey lamented, “Our economy is the lowest it’s been in God knows how long. We keep sending money to Ukraine and other countries rather than helping ourselves.”

This focus group, conducted by the left-leaning polling group HIT Strategies, might puzzle partisan Democrats who believe the economy is thriving. However, these sentiments reflect the real experiences of many voters. Inflation has eroded their purchasing power, making it difficult for them to make ends meet.

For instance, one woman compared the cost of a shopping cart of groceries in 2020 to the same items in 2023. What used to cost her $10 now amounts to $15. For those struggling to feed their families on shrinking budgets, economic statistics hold little meaning.

One respondent, an Asian American and Pacific Islander, expressed confusion over mixed economic messages: “We don’t know what’s going to happen… They’re kind of saying that there possibly is going to be a soft landing, but they’re also expecting a recession of some sort. It’s kind of a mixed message.”

There’s mounting evidence the rosy outlook Biden is promoting is not resonating with the American public. A survey from Quinnipiac University on Wednesday found nearly six in ten Americans — 58 percent — disapprove of his handling of the economy. Biden is above water with Black voters on the economy, but 35 percent of Black voters still say they disapprove — a far cry from how he performed with this group in 2020. His marks with Hispanic voters are even worse, with 50 percent disapproving of his handling of the economy.

When it comes to choosing between Trump and Biden, many voters are searching for an alternative. One African American man from Cleveland, a registered Democrat, voiced dissatisfaction with both past and present administrations: “I’m definitely not happy with where America was when Trump was president. And I’m not happy with where America is now that Biden’s president. We’ve already had years of both of them being president and with no kind of good results. So I’m hoping there’s some other, you know, candidate or alternative besides these two.”

It is vital for Biden to secure at least 90% of the black vote, especially in critical states like Pennsylvania and Michigan. Given Trump’s growing influence within this constituency and Biden’s challenges in increasing support among white working-class voters, Democrats may need to consider their strategy moving forward.

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