THE BLACK ELECTORATE COULD DECIDE THE 2020 ELECTION. HERE’S WHY. The factors that will shape African American voting turnout on election day, and their political power well beyond.
Black Americans could decide the 2020 presidential election, particularly in key battleground states like Wisconsin and Florida. The battle for the White House approaches as Black Americans face the brunt of an unprecedented national crisis – one in 1,000 have died of the virus and African Americans are twice as likely to have lost a job.
Joe Biden’s road to the White House could hang on Democrats’ ability to turn out their most loyal bloc.
Although they have maintained a sizable advantage among African Americans over Republicans counterparts for decades, support for Democrats has slowly declined since the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency. That complicates Democratic efforts to courtthese 30 million eligible voters ahead of 3 November.
African Americans are often depicted as a single, unified bloc, and many analysts warn Democrats that therein lies the problem. As experts debunk the myth of the Black voter monolith, the path to victory may be dependent on Democrats’ ability to speak to Black voters’ diversity.
Here are factors that will shape Black voting turnout on election day, and their political power well beyond.
Migration puts more states in play
Since the 1970s, the US has experienced a reverse migration in which Black Americans move from northern cities back to the south. Most often, it’s to communities where they were born or where their families were rooted before the Great Migration – an era between 1916 and 1970 when 6 million African Americans escaped segregation and discrimination in the south, to pursue jobs up north.
“There’s a clear understanding that a growing, energized bloc of African American voters can be a tipping point for any electorate,” Bill Frey, a senior fellow and demographer with the Brookings Institution, told the Guardian.
“It’s an example of what we can see moving forward where many thought, and still think, that Georgia will eventually turn blue,” he added.
Along with Georgia, the top states for Black population gains include Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia – all swing or battleground states where the vice-president ramped up campaign efforts in the weeks leading up to 3 November. According to Pew, more than one-third of Black voters live in nine of the most competitive states.
The Brookings Institution also noted that while progressive attitudes are most often held by younger, college-educated blacks, the influence of retirees and older Americans from more liberal cities can also skew voting blocs left.
But that’s also creating a generational divide between more radical youth and their pragmatic elders.