Black Voters’ Frustration Bubbling Over As Biden Runs For Re-election

Black Voters’ Frustration Bubbling Over As Biden Runs For Re-election

President Biden kicked off his re-election campaign this week, vowing to “finish the job” he started in 2021. No one wants him to do that more than black voters.

In South Carolina, where black voters are the most loyal Democratic constituency, Mr. After reviving Biden’s presidential campaign and winning twice in Georgia, they sent him to the White House with his party in control of the Senate. In return, they hoped the administration would go beyond past presidents to try to improve their communities — and they listened carefully to his promises to do so.

Yet some of black voters’ biggest policy priorities — restrictive voting laws, student loan relief and stronger federal protections against criminal justice and police accountability measures — failed or stalled, some because of Republican opposition and some because Democrats refused to bypass Senate filibuster rules. Those frustrations, highlighted in interviews with more than three dozen black voters, organizers and elected officials in recent weeks, leave open the question of how excited the Democrats’ most important electorate will be in 2024.

The interviews point to a growing rift among black elected officials — who say Mr. Voters who are nearly identical — and less confident — praise Biden and predict a strong black turnout for him next year.

“Everybody is tired of being tired,” said Travis Williams, a Democratic organizer in Dorchester County, SC, “and they’re sick of being tired and frustrated whenever our issues are never addressed.”

Marvin Dutton, 38, a businessman who moved from Philadelphia to Atlanta in 2020, Mr. He suggested that Biden should be “a little more honest” than “talking to us when it’s time to vote.”

Mr. Biden’s re-election bid and his renewed pledge to achieve his first-term policy goals have caused some reflection and frustration among black voters in battleground states. Many believe that his grand promises to black communities have been broken.

Mr. If Biden is his party’s nominee, as expected, Democrats may feel confident that a majority of black voters will choose him over a Republican. But Mr. The question for the party is whether Democratic voters will bring the same level of energy that led to Biden’s 2020 victory.

In his campaign announcement, Mr. Biden has made no secret of the importance of black voters to his re-election bid. Besides his wife, Biden’s three-minute video featured allies with the most airtime — Vice President Kamala Harris, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

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In 2020 Mr. Representative James E. of South Carolina, who was Biden’s most important block candidate. Clyburn said. “I don’t see a lack of enthusiasm. And people keep saying that. But it’s not there.”

On Friday, bringing together candidates and hundreds of South Carolina Democrats, Mr. Clyburn’s annual fish fry provided an early glimpse of that excitement. The state party is preparing to hold its presidential election first in the nominating process — a move Mr. Biden and Democrats said.

Mr. Biden’s allies say his administration has delivered to black voters but he has failed to trumpet some of his progress. Since taking office, he has given billions of dollars to historically black colleges and universities, and he has appointed more black judges, including Justice Jackson, to the federal bench than any other president. Black unemployment is very low. A major concern of black voters is the economy, which has recovered from its pandemic recession, although inflation, which spiked last summer, is higher on a consistent basis than it has been in decades.

“The president and vice president have created issues that black Americans need to prioritize and are running to get the job done,” Mr. said Kevin Munoz, a spokesman for Biden’s campaign. “The campaign will work hard to secure every vote and expand its winning 2020 coalition.”

But there is evidence of declining black voter turnout during the 2022 midterm elections, even though the results show Mr. Both were seen as gratifying to Biden and his party, despite the Republican victory in the House.

The share of black voters nationally fell 1 percent from 2018 to 2022, the largest drop of any racial group, while the share of white, college-educated voters increased, according to data from Democratic polling firm HIT Strategies. .

Black voter turnout doesn’t have to change to change the outcome in highly competitive states. In 2020, Mr. Biden won Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin by less than 35,000 votes each.

In Milwaukee — Wisconsin’s majority black population — the number of votes cast for Democratic Senate candidates dropped 18 percent. 2018 to do 2022, according to Wisconsin voter data, turnout was similar across the state. If Milwaukee had given Democrats the same margin in 2022 as it did in 2018, Democrat Mandela Barnes would have defeated Republican Senator Ron Johnson.

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The city’s mayor, Cavalier Johnson, attributed the difference in part to Republican efforts to make it harder to vote in Wisconsin — especially after Mr. Biden’s narrow victory in 2020.

For black voters Mr. Mr. Biden’s array of accomplishments. Johnson Quote: He appointed Justice Jackson, the first black woman, to the Supreme Court. He emphasized the creation of manufacturing jobs that were once the heartbeat of Milwaukee but had moved overseas. Also, Mr. Johnson added that black voters would prefer Mr. While Mr. Biden’s efforts failed, Mr.

“They know that Joe Biden stood up to them in this breach, fought to build an economy that benefited African Americans, and fought against some of the hatred and discrimination against people of color and African Americans,” Mr. Johnson said.

In interviews with some black voters, Mr. Their frustration with the pace of change that Biden has promised has left them questioning whether they will support him again or even run for office in the next election.

Jennifer Roberts, 35, a lifelong Democrat and Mr. One of the black Georgians who helped elect Biden and Senators Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff. In 2020, she was confident that Ms. Harris, the first woman of color to become vice president, would use her background to advance policies related to women of color and “pray for them to succeed.”

Three years later, Ms Roberts’ view of Mr Biden’s promises has changed. Her mother moved in with her due to rising rent costs in metro Atlanta. Inflation has put additional pressure on the tow-truck business she and her husband own.

Former President Donald J. Ms Roberts now says she will support Trump if he is the Republican nominee next year. What she wants and hasn’t gotten yet is “certain help” — and Mr. He believes Trump’s economic policies could provide that.

“I understand he tried,” he said to Mr. Said about Biden. “When you don’t say things directly, when they don’t go the way you publicly said they’re going to go, you can’t sweep it under the rug.”

In Philadelphia, 45-year-old Lamont Wilson, an information technology manager, said in 2020 that Mr. Voted for Biden, but said he’s not impressed with the 2024 candidates so far. Mr. He said Biden has “done a lot of good” but has not lived up to his expectations.

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Mr. Mr. Wilson kept his promise to eliminate student loans. Biden said he hopes to “hold firm” — the president announced a $400 billion plan to forgive up to $20,000 in debt for certain individuals, though the Supreme Court could block it. Black college graduates carry an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than white college graduates. According to the Department of Education.

“Give people a chance to get out of that debt,” said Mr. Wilson said.

Nocola Hemphill, an activist and state party representative in Winnsboro, S.C., said she had also heard grumblings about Mr. Biden from black voters. But she saw this as a form of accountability, not evidence of a deeper problem.

“Not everyone is happy with the administration,” he said. “And it’s not that we don’t want to see Biden run. We want to make sure he’s going to keep his promises.

Mr. Hope Biden delivers. Mr. Mr. Spahn has concrete plans for his second term. He said he wanted to hear from Biden.

“I think he needs to be direct about what he’s going to do,” Mr. Spann said. “And then I think he should actually come and talk to us about it.”

Mr. Biden’s supporters say that while some black voters are frustrated with the party, Democrats are a safer choice than Republicans, who have opposed legislation protecting voting rights and black lawmakers and voters winning student loan debt relief. In many GOP-controlled state legislatures, lawmakers have sought to cut black history lessons from school curricula, outlaw books by black authors, and drawn up congressional maps restricting black suffrage.

Democrats plan to underline the GOP’s record on these issues.

“Black voters understand everything,” said Mr. Clyburn said. “We’re going to spend a lot of time this year reminding them who’s doing this next.” At the same time, Democrats must win over voters who are reluctant to support the party again.

“It’s a difficult conversation to go back into those communities and explain why we haven’t gotten criminal justice reform,” said Kevin Harris, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. “It’s a difficult conversation to have to go into those communities and talk about why we’re not getting the protections we need with voting rights.”

He continued: “It’s a tough conversation. But you still take it.”

John Hurdle Contributed reporting from Philadelphia.


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