Biden's challenge: retaining black voter support in Georgia

March 12, 2024 6:41 am

[Source: Reuters]

Much has changed since Wanda Mosley helped galvanize thousands of Black voters across the battleground state of Georgia to help clinch the 2020 general election for U.S. President Joe Biden.

Excited to head to the polls then, some Black voters now feel disillusioned by a surge in the cost of living and racial justice priorities they feel Biden’s Democrats have yet to deliver on as promised, polls and interviews show.

Massive voter drives backed by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and other Black organizers delivered the state for Biden in 2020, and the Senate for Democrats.

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But four years later, Biden’s strength among Black voters nationwide is less certain, as they question Democrats’ commitment to voting rights, tackling white supremacy and other issues dear to them. A Pew Research Center poll in January found Black Americans are divided over Biden’s performance in office – about 49% of Black adults disapproved of it, while 48% approved.

Both Biden and his rival, Republican candidate Donald Trump, visited Georgia on Saturday in an effort to sway voters ahead of Tuesday’s primaries. Results there could serve as an early bellwether of the tough road ahead for Biden before November’s general election to reach Black voters, who historically are the most loyal voting bloc of the Democratic Party. According to Pew, 92% of Black voters backed Biden in 2020.

Opinion polls show the Nov. 5 election shaping up to be a close match between Biden and Trump, making turnout among Black Americans – who comprise sizable populations in key battleground states like Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – a crucial aspect of Biden’s path to victory.

But there are some early warning signs. Nearly a dozen voters, rights advocates and civil rights leaders interviewed by Reuters said Biden’s campaign has a messaging disconnect on the ground in Black communities across the nation, including Georgia, where 33% of the population is Black.

They say some voters feel enough hasn’t been done for them, while others are unaware of Biden’s actions that directly benefited Black Americans like expanding access to healthcare coverage, economic gains that led to record low Black unemployment rates and the Child Tax Credit expansion, which helped cut childhood poverty in half in 2021.

Biden appeared on civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton’s syndicated radio show in January, touting several policies, including federal contracting guidelines and lead pipe removal, aimed at improving access to contracting opportunities for Black businesses and addressing decades of low or reduced infrastructure investment in areas with large Black populations.

After the call, Sharpton said his phone lines were flooded with callers who said it was the first time they heard of those actions. Sharpton said he has met with Biden’s team about two or three times since last March and his message to them is simple – they need to deepen their ties to Black communities.