Biden’s Black voter troubles set off alarm bells

Prominent Black officials are cautioning the Biden campaign about the ineffectiveness of the president’s attempts to secure the unwavering support and enthusiasm of Black voters. They are emphasizing the urgency of effectively conveying his message before time runs out.

Black Democrats have expressed their concerns about the lack of communication regarding policy achievements from the White House. Their worry is not about the absence of accomplishments, but rather the fact that Black voters are not being informed about them. Additionally, there is apprehension that the Biden campaign may not fully understand the gravity of this information gap, especially in crucial battleground states.

“I find myself in a battleground state, experiencing firsthand what has been accomplished and what still needs to be addressed. At times, I have felt a sense of disconnection with the messaging, the messengers, and the level of mobilization,” shared Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), who serves as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. He emphasized that he has personally raised this concern with the campaign.

According to Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas), the current issue of disinformation can be attributed, in part, to a fragmented news landscape. With voters turning to nontraditional sources for information, the way we communicate has significantly changed. Crockett emphasizes the importance of early investment in addressing this problem, stating that while it may not be the last minute, we are definitely in crunch time.

However, behind the scenes, Democratic operatives have voiced concerns about other issues. They worry that Black influencers and media personalities may have become disillusioned with Biden. Additionally, they note that the president has avoided extensive interviews and spontaneous campaign stops, which has made him appear less accessible to voters. Black leaders have also observed that the community is receptive to the targeted outreach efforts of the Donald Trump campaign.

Black voters are shown to support Biden policies, such as student debt relief and funding for historic Black colleges, once they become familiar with them. However, like the rest of the population, they are also concerned about the persistence of inflation.

The concerns raised in these states, particularly Georgia and North Carolina, are of utmost importance. In Georgia, Black people represent approximately 32 percent of the eligible voting population, while in North Carolina, they make up about 22 percent. Even a small decrease in support from Black voters, as seen in Pennsylvania where they comprise around 10 percent of eligible voters, could have significant implications for Biden’s chances of winning the election.

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Horsford expressed his belief that the campaign has already taken steps towards making changes. He highlighted the recent launch of “Black Voters for Biden-Harris” during a campaign rally in Philadelphia, which featured the president and vice president. However, Horsford also acknowledged that he wasn’t the only prominent Democrat who had expressed concerns and engaged in discussions with the Biden reelection team.

According to Black Democratic operatives in the field, they have found through their research that the issue of an information gap severely affects Biden’s support, resulting in a decline in enthusiasm. In a recent focus group conducted by BlackPAC in North Carolina, Black voters who had supported Biden in the 2020 election expressed disappointment, stating that the promises he made to their community had not been fulfilled.

Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPAC, explained to POLITICO that when individuals are informed about the actions taken by the Biden administration, specifically in relation to matters that concern the Black communities, they often express surprise.

BlackPAC’s primary focus is on working-class Black voters, many of whom do not attend prestigious institutions like Morehouse College or historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). According to the PAC, these voters may not be aware of Biden’s achievements and could play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of the election in various crucial states.

According to Cornell Belcher, President Barack Obama’s pollster and the one who conducted the focus groups for BlackPAC, there’s a clear distinction between the MSNBC crowd, who obtain their political information from traditional media sources, and those who rely on social media for news. This difference is significant because those who watch Joy Reid on MSNBC are likely to be aware of President Biden’s accomplishments, such as the executive order banning chokeholds in federal offices. However, individuals who spend their time on social media platforms like the Shade Room or other similar sites may never come across this information.

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Black voters play a crucial role in Biden’s support base, with older Black women being a longstanding pillar for the Democratic Party. However, recent polling and focus groups indicate that young voters and Black men have become less enthusiastic about Biden. According to a recent poll by The Washington Post, only 41 percent of Black Americans aged 18 to 39 are certain to vote in this year’s election, a significant decline from the 61 percent recorded in June 2020.

The Biden campaign recognizes the frustration expressed by Black leaders and understands the significance of regaining their support. The campaign acknowledges that there has been a lack of awareness among Black voters regarding Biden’s accomplishments. However, they remain optimistic and determined to address this challenge.

“We wouldn’t need to advertise on pay media if every Black person across the country knew everything that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had done for their life,” the official explained. “We wouldn’t need to open field offices in that community to communicate that. So, I agree with the necessity of these actions because the awareness isn’t there. However, I don’t agree with the sentiment that suggests we’re waiting around or not talking about it.”

The Biden campaign has made a significant investment in Black media this month, dedicating seven figures to the cause. As part of this effort, new television and radio ads were released last week, aiming to challenge Trump’s track record with the Black community. In addition, Biden has taken proactive steps to engage with the Black community, including meetings with family members of the plaintiffs from the landmark 1954 case, Brown v. Board of Education. He has also extended invitations to the leaders of the “Divine Nine,” the historically Black fraternities and sororities, to visit the White House. Furthermore, Biden has actively participated in NAACP events in Detroit and Washington, D.C., and delivered a commencement address at the esteemed Morehouse College in Atlanta. Demonstrating his commitment, Biden has participated in 12 interviews this year alone with Black journalists or radio hosts, the most recent being with D.L. Hughley on Wednesday.

The Biden campaign stated that they believe Black voters should have the opportunity to hear from Team Biden-Harris and that their vote should be earned, rather than assumed.

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Some Black operatives express concern that Biden and his team may be focusing their efforts on the wrong demographic. W. Mondale Robinson, the founder of the Black Male Voter Project, believes that Biden should expand his outreach beyond spaces that primarily cater to an elite, college-educated audience.

According to Robinson, the outreach that people are willing to engage in is limited and lacking in impact. He highlights the importance of not solely focusing on engaging with Black men at prestigious institutions like Morehouse or those who own businesses, as this fails to reach the majority of Black men who are not actively participating in elections.

The campaign believes in taking a comprehensive approach to inform and gain the support of Black voters. Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized in a recent podcast interview that the campaign is well aware of the need to earn the support of Black voters, particularly Black men.

According to Harris, black men, just like everyone else, must earn their vote. She emphasizes that it is important not to stereotype or generalize this group, as they have diverse concerns beyond just criminal justice.

Time is running out to secure those crucial votes, and the stakes are high. A recent poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal in April revealed that 30 percent of Black men in seven swing states are either “definitely or probably going to vote” for former President Donald Trump. This is a significant increase from the 12 percent of Black men who supported Trump nationwide in 2020. These numbers have not only alarmed party officials but have also left them perplexed.

Belcher, an Obama supporter, expressed his dissent, stating, “This goes against everything I believe in. I believe Obama has a more compelling narrative to share.” However, he voiced concerns about the limited time the campaign has left, acknowledging that they may have less time than they realize.

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