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Black Voters’ Disillusionment With Biden Could Help Trump Pull Off A 2016 Repeat

While enthusiasm for Biden is dismal, Democrats will certainly try to harvest the ballots of voters who aren’t motivated to get to the polls.

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During a recent segment on “Saturday Night Live,” Michael Che joked President Joe Biden, like the Baltimore bridge that collapsed, “is no longer connecting with black communities.” But for the Biden campaign, it’s not funny. In fact, the president’s low approval ratings and apparent inability to inspire enthusiasm among black voters could mean a repeat of 2016 for Democrats, if the enthusiasm gap is wide enough to outweigh Democrats’ ballot trafficking operations.

A poll surveying Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin conducted by the Wall Street Journal found that Biden is winning about 68 percent of black voters in those swing states — a low number, by historical comparison. During the 2020 election, Biden received 91 percent of the black vote nationwide, according to the WSJ.

The WSJ poll, which was conducted March 17-24 and included 600 voters in each state, isn’t the first to suggest black voters may be growing dissatisfied with the Biden administration. In November, a New York Times and Siena College poll found 22 percent of black voters in six key swing states would choose Trump over Biden. A December poll from the University of Chicago found 63 percent of black Americans would vote for Biden while 20 percent said they would vote for “someone else” besides Trump or Biden. Seventeen percent said they would choose Trump.

An NBC News poll also found that while black voters may still overwhelmingly favor Biden when compared to Trump, “the margin shrank” when it came to those under the age of 34. Biden’s support went from 73 percent among black voters of all ages to 60 percent amongst those under 34. Meanwhile, Trump went from 17 percent to 28 percent respectively, according to the poll. The demographic is key for Biden, who won “89% of Black voters under 29 and 78% of those 30 to 44,” according to the poll.

‘Overall Lack of Enthusiasm’

“It doesn’t seem like any choice is really a good choice at all,” 30-year-old Detroit native Kaja Braziel told NPR. Braziel, who voted for former President Barack Obama, said she’s upset Biden “hasn’t done more” to pay for her student loans and is not sure she will even head to the polls come November.

“It feels more so like you’re caught between the devil you know and the devil you don’t. And at this point in time, it feels like both the devils that we know. And I’m not comfortable with either of them,” Braziel said.

Ka’Marr Coleman-Byrd, 27, is a tax consultant who voted for Biden in 2020 but said as of now he has not made up his mind about the 2024 election.

“Growing up, I feel like I voted Democrat just because it just seemed like the thing to do,” Coleman-Byrd told NPR. “I’d say now … I’m sort of more into politics and seeing exactly what both parties present, so it’s not just like a blind vote in a sense.”

Then there is 31-year-old CJ Sampson, who told NPR that while he considers himself to be liberal, Biden does not inspire confidence. He said when comparing whether life was better under Trump or Biden, “it’s kind of a mixture of both.”

Team Trump appears eager to capitalize on the shift among voters. Trump received 6 percent of the black vote in 2016 and 8 percent in 2020, according to a Pew Research analysis. Now the former president is encouraging Republicans in key states like Michigan to reach out to black voters in Detroit and other areas, in the hopes of drawing them away from Biden, according to The Associated Press.

“This is part of Donald Trump’s path to victory,” CEO of Democrat firm HIT Strategies Terrance Woodbury told The Washington Post. “There’s about 32 percent of the Black electorate that’s just cynical, frustrated, closest to the pain, and that voter doesn’t like Democrats or Republicans. They feel like they’ve been failed by both sides and they’ve been failed by a system. And that’s a part of Donald Trump’s ‘the system is broken’ message that appeals to them.”

For Trump, the goal isn’t about “winning” the black vote so much as it is chipping away at Biden’s base.

“Nobody thinks we are going to win the Black vote,” an anonymous Trump adviser told the Post. “But if you get 10 percent or more, the election is over.”

Democrat strategist Doug Schoen contends that “overall lack of enthusiasm” is the biggest issue for Biden.

“I tend to think that black voters will probably come back to Biden in bigger numbers than they are now but that there’s an enthusiasm gap and turnout will be an issue for Biden,” Schoen told The Federalist.

Biden does not have much leeway. In 2020, he won states like Georgia and Arizona by less than 15,000 votes. Voters who decide to choose Trump over Biden — or even the couch over Biden — present a roadblock to the incumbent.

A 2016 Repeat?

If enough voters choose to stay home, Biden could run into the same problem Hillary Clinton did in 2016 when she lost by thin margins after millions of voters either sat the race out or voted for her opponent.

The Washington Post reviewed data from 33 states and Washington D.C. and found at least 1.75 million people who went to the polls in 2016 did not vote for a presidential candidate.

A separate review from Pew Research found that out of the “tens of millions of registered voters” who did not vote at all in 2016, 25 percent said their “dislike” of the candidate drove their decision. When broken down by race, 19 percent of black voters who did not vote cited issues with the candidates.

Clinton’s team misjudged their chances in Wisconsin, for example, where the NYT noted “Clinton had assumed she would win.” Trump ended up winning the state, which saw its lowest voter turnout in 16 years, by just 27,000 votes. (Trump lost the state in 2020 by less than 21,000 votes.)

Wisconsin’s District 15, which was 84 percent black during the 2016 election, saw the state’s biggest turnout decline in 2016 compared to 2012, according to the NYT. Several voters told the Times they were upset about the candidate choices — a common sentiment heard this go-around as well.

Since 2016, of course, Democrats have come a long way in institutionalizing their ballot trafficking operations, which make voter enthusiasm less of a gold standard. Even if enthusiasm for Biden remains dismal, Democrats will do their best to counteract it by harvesting ballots for voters who aren’t motivated enough to get themselves to the polls.

Biden Courts Anti-Israel Radicals

As Biden faces polling drops among black voters, he is also struggling among anti-Israel radicals. In Michigan’s majority-Arab Dearborn, “uncommitted” beat Biden during the state’s presidential primary. Statewide, more than 100,000 voters chose “uncommitted” in the primary, according to the NYT.

Schoen told The Federalist that Biden appears more concerned about losing the progressive wing of his party rather than black voters.

“I think Biden’s worried about progressives,” he said. “He’s worried about the left undermining him, he’s worried about Arab-Americans in states like Michigan and that I think explains in large part his movement … to a policy now that is going to condition military aid for Israel.”

“I’m more confident that black voters will come home [in November] than progressives and I think that’s what Biden thinks as well,” Schoen added. But will taking black voters for granted only give them more reason to be disillusioned with Biden?

Democrats in general seem less enthusiastic about Biden than they were in 2020. A Gallup poll found 42 percent of Democrats say they are less enthusiastic about voting than normal compared to 35 percent of Republicans. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released in January found 44 percent of Trump supporters scored their enthusiasm for Trump as a 10. Just 18 percent of Biden supporters said the same for the Democrat president.

It’s little wonder Democrats have tried to keep the election from being a referendum on the unpopular incumbent president. The campaign strategy appears to be fearmongering about “threats to democracy” and waging lawfare against Trump, instead of touting Biden’s uninspiring record.

Schoen said Biden needs to address Americans’ concerns about illegal immigration and inflation. Asked whether Biden’s messaging about alleged “threats to democracy” would increase voter turnout and appeal to dissatisfied voters, Schoen told The Federalist: “You can’t eat ‘threat to democracy.'”


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