Biden, Trump Ratchet Up Appeals to Black Voters

Former President Donald Trump drew crowds of minority voters at a campaign rally in the Bronx on May 23. Lawrence Wilson, political reporter at The Epoch Times, who has been following the 2024 campaigns, says President Trump is reaching out to lower-income black voters while President Joe Biden is reaching out to the traditional black constituency.

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are making overt appeals to black voters in an election cycle where political loyalties are shifting, and the race may be won or lost by small margins in a handful of battleground states.

One measure of the candidate’s urgency is the early vitriol in campaign advertising, with each accusing the other of racism.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) on May 17 released a video compilation of remarks by President Biden dating back years that appear racist. The Biden campaign struck back within days, releasing a pair of videos accusing President Trump of being racist.

Janiyah Thomas, black media director for the Trump campaign, said the Biden videos were an attempt to gaslight black voters. “The bottom line is Black voters are abandoning Biden and moving towards President Trump,” Ms. Thomas said in a statement.

The statement likely referred to a slew of polls over several months showing that President Trump is gaining support among African Americans, especially men.

Among the most recent polls, a series from The New York Times, Siena College, and The Philadelphia Inquirer show President Trump leading among registered voters in five of the six battleground states: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, and Nevada. President Biden led only in Wisconsin.

The same polls showed the two candidates in a dead heat among 18-to-29-year-old and Hispanic voters. President Biden won more than 60 percent of votes in those demographics in 2020. President Trump also garnered more than 20 percent support among black voters.

Trump Courts the Working Class

To build support among black voters, President Trump has focused mainly on the working class. He paid a visit to the South Bronx on May 23. The population of Bronx County is about 77 percent black or Hispanic, according to 2022 census data. President Biden won the county by 67.6 percentage points in 2020.

A May 15 Siena College poll showed that President Trump was within 9 percentage points of President Biden in New York State, though President Biden’s margin is much wider in New York City.

In the Bronx speech, President Trump focused on the economy, crime, and immigration. Many African Americans have been hard hit by inflation, and some are resentful of what they see as preferential treatment of immigrants who entered the country illegally.

“The biggest epiphany for Black folks was when they saw that we were giving illegal immigrants in New York credit cards, they stayed in luxury hotels, and gave them money to eat,” Robin Barnes, 54, of Oakland County, Michigan, told The Epoch Times. “And you have had African American citizens who have been homeless … for all this time? What a slap in the face.”

President Trump also visited a convenience store in upper Manhattan on April 16, where a man had been stabbed to death, using the visit to highlight the problem of crime in the city.

On April 25, the former president visited a construction site in Manhattan, where he shook hands with workers who were building what will become the 70-story headquarters of one of the country’s largest banking firms.

Flanked by some 100 people chanting “We want Trump,” the former president used the occasion to criticize his opponent’s economic policies. “I’ve got a lot of support there,” President Trump quipped.

Speaking to a black conservative group in South Carolina on Feb. 23, President Trump likened the four criminal cases against him to discrimination faced by black Americans and said they had come to “embrace” his mug shots.

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and six other Republican members of Congress from New York released a statement on May 23 saying, “New York is in play.”

Biden Emphasizes Achievements

President Biden’s approval rating among black Americans has declined sharply since he took office, now at 55 percent as opposed to 87 percent in March 2021 according to Pew Research.

To shore up his support in this historically significant Democratic constituency, the president has touted his record of achievements benefiting African Americans and touched on semisacred icons of the black community.

Notably, President Biden asked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to hold this year’s first presidential primary in South Carolina—a state in which 27 percent of residents are black—disrupting the 50-year tradition of starting the campaign in predominately white New Hampshire.

President Biden kicked off his campaign in January at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the historically black congregation that was the site of a racially motivated massacre in 2015. The president used the occasion to denounce the “poison” of white supremacy.

On the campaign trail, President Biden frequently asserts that he has fulfilled his campaign promises to the black community and deserves their continued support. Among the accomplishments he lists are record investments in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), achieving the lowest black unemployment rate in history, and driving a 30-year high in the growth of black-owned small businesses.

President Biden delivered the commencement address on May 19 at Morehouse College, a historically black men’s college and the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The president announced that he has invested $16 billion in HBCUs.

The gospel choir from Howard University, another HBCU, was invited to perform at a state dinner honoring the president of Kenya on May 23.

The Biden administration’s policies of capping insulin prices at $35 and reforming marijuana laws are also widely perceived as benefiting minorities, who are disproportionately affected by diabetes and incarceration for drug-related offenses.

Black households saw significant growth in net worth between 2019 and 2022 according to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. The median net worth among black households surged by 60 percent to $44,900, the largest increase of any racial group.

Despite the achievements touted, the Biden campaign struggles to reduce the loss of minority supporters. One reason may be that minority voters perceive Democrats as being too extreme.

“A majority of black voters now see the Democratic Party as more extreme than Republicans. Overall, voters’ views that Democrats are more extreme have increased five percent since January,” according to the polling firm Cygnal.

Ron Klink, a senior policy adviser and former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, said the Biden administration has provided unprecedented opportunities for leadership and input to minority Americans, surpassing any previous administration.

“I think that should resonate,” Mr. Klink told The Epoch Times. “If it doesn’t, then they haven’t done a good job of communicating.”

To be sure, President Biden still commands a majority among black and Hispanic voters, according to a May 20 report from Pew Research.

Some 83 percent of black voters are Democrats or lean Democratic versus 12 percent who are or lean Republican. And 77 percent of black voters would favor Biden if the election were held today, with 18 percent favoring Trump.

However, those numbers have shifted since 2020, when exit polls showed that 87 percent of black voters chose President Biden and 12 percent voted for President Trump.

The margins of victory in four battleground states—Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Wisconsin—totaled fewer than 80,000 votes in the 2020 election, so any change in black voting behavior could affect the 2024 election.

A significant shift among black voters could decide the election, Ford O’Connell, a political analyst and Republican strategist, told The Epoch Times.

“If Trump gets anywhere near 20 percent [of the black vote], he’s going to become the president of the United States.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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