Poll Shows Black Voters’ Mindset In Final Weeks of Election Cycle
Oct. 7, 2020
As the nation gears up to watch the vice presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence, polling numbers are showing where Black voters’ minds are going into the final weeks of the campaign.
Survey results posted on Twitter by the Black Futures Lab, an organization that advocates for transformative political engagement, show several issues that top the list of priorities for African American voters. A slight majority said racism is foremost for them, followed by the coronavirus pandemic, and then the economy.
About 63 percent are not satisfied with the direction of the country and 64 percent disapprove of President Trump’s performance. Another 62 percent say police should be held accountable in criminal situations and 39 percent are behind defunding the police.
But a large majority 74 percent — an equal amount of African American men and women — plan to vote in the 2020 election. 60 percent say they will vote in person early or on election day. Another 31 percent will be utilizing mail-in voting procedures. However, 25 percent say social distancing issues must be addressed.
Downballot Contest In Long Island, N.Y. Could Produce A Historic First
Oct. 6, 2020
One of the lesser known, but more interesting downballot races this election cycle is the House race between Democrat Jackie Gordon and Republican Andrew Garbarino in New York’s 2nd Congressional District, which sits in a traditionally conservative area of Long Island.
Both candidates are vying to replace Rep. Peter King, a 14-term veteran who announced plans to retire last year. King endorsed Garbarino earlier this year, but Gordon seems to be picking up momentum headed into November.
Gordon, 55, a veteran of both wars in Iraq, and a former public school teacher and guidance counselor. She has spent the last 13 years serving on the Babylon, N.Y. town council and has a reputation for supporting veterans and working with their families.
Garbarino, 36, is a New York State assemblyman and also a lawyer. He’s running to continue King’s legacy in Long Island. He says he wants to strengthen infrastructure, protect against criminal groups like MS-13 and fight against tax increases.
But Gordon has raised $1.7 million for her campaign compared with $488,000 for Garbarino, according to the latest figures from the Federal Election Commission.
She would be the first African American to represent the district and her election would be a sign of a diversifying Long Island. But she says she’s disturbed by the divided nation this election cycle.
“I saw the craziness in Washington, and I knew, in order to change government, you have to change those who govern,” Gordon told City & State New York. “I think Trump has – I think it’s become really divisive. Almost any time anyone speaks, I hear the far right, the radical left, just this divisiveness. We definitely have a two-party system, but the two parties have to come together because we’re one body.”
One of the most divisive issues has been police reform. Garbarino has gotten the backing of the law enforcement community in his area, saying that he would “back the blue,” and noted to the Long Island Press that although George Floyd’s death was tragic, that “we can’t vilify every police officer for the actions of a few.”
Biden Makes Push For Votes In Miami’s Haitian, Cuban Communities
Oct. 5, 2020
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s strategy is extending to communities in South Florida that are predominantly Haitian-American and Cuban-American in the middle of a larger area that has swung back and forth between Democrats and Republicans over the past few election cycles.
The Miami Herald reports on Monday afternoon, Oct. 5. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden were scheduled to visit Miami’s Little Haiti Cultural Center and then they will go to the Little Havana area of the city to talk to voters about his “Reconstruir Mejor” (Build Back Better) platform.
Those two events take place before Biden heads to a “drive-in” rally in Boca Raton. After that he’ll participate in a socially distanced town hall at the Peréz Art Museum Miami, which will be televised on NBC. The network had previously extended a similar offer to President Trump, who is hospitalized after being diagnosed with coronavirus last week.
Florida has been known as an important swing state for years. In the 2000 election, it came down to a relative few votes — and a recount — between Al Gore and George W. Bush, who emerged victorious. Democrats held the state much of the time, but it swung back to Republicans when Trump ran in 2016.
Disproportionate Rejection of Black Mail-In Ballots in North Carolina Become Cause For Concern
Oct. 2, 2020
An analysis of 2018 mail-in absentee ballots in North Carolina showed that ballots sent by Black voters in the midterm elections were twice as likely to be rejected than those sent by white voters.
The study, conducted by Raleigh, N.C., station WRAL and ProPublica.org showed a disparity that raises concerns about voter disenfranchisement in the state. The pattern for the 2020 election is similar. The rejection rate for mail-in ballots from Black voters so far this year is about 3 percent, according to ProPublica, which is almost three times as high as the rate for white voters, state data shows.
Sandra Cosby, a Black woman who voted by mail in 2018, said her ballot was rejected and was one of 6,000 that were treated the same that year.
“I didn’t get any kind of communication at all,” said Cosby, 58, who told ProPublica that she doesn’t remember if she signed her ballot. “So that really shocked me, and to find out years later, really upset me. It really upset me.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, people are more likely to cast mail-in ballots than in prior elections. But because of the rate of rejections of Black voter ballots, the outcome the vote in crucial areas could possibly be swayed.
Local officials are unsure why Black voter ballots are more susceptible to rejection and that demographic information is not available when county election boards accept or reject them.
“There is no intentional malfeasance going on to deny someone their right to vote,” said Michael Bitzer, a professor of political science at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. “But with the history that North Carolina has of Jim Crow legislation, of poll taxes, of active voter suppression that this state has experienced firsthand for over 100 years, there is some reliable resentment and issues to be raised about this.”
Black mail-in ballots were 14 percent of about 104,000 cast in North Carolina in 2018, according to ProPublica. Those ballots were rejected at a rate of 14 percent, or more than twice the 6.3 percent rate of all statewide mail-in ballots and the largest of all racial categories.
Black make up the largest racial group in North Carolina Democratic voters, as they comprise 46 percent of party members. What’s more, although voting by mail has not made a very large difference, experts say that is now likely to change.
Jaime Harrison Running Neck And Neck With Lindsey Graham in S.C. Senate Race
Oct. 1, 2020
The South Carolina senate race is now closer than ever, and polls have Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison tied with incumbent Lindsey Graham at 48 percentage points among likely voters, Politico reports.
The news comes as early voting in the state is set to begin on Monday and Harrison, who is a favorite among African American voters has a solid chance of putting the Senate seat back in Democratic hands for the first time since 2003. It would also upend the legacy of conservative politics in the seat after Graham and Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond before him held it.
“We’re seeing what we’ve always known,” Guy King, a spokesman for Harrison’s campaign, told BET.com. “Jaime has a compelling story that resonates with everyone so the polls are showing what we’ve always known.”
A Quinnipiac University survey also showed that 48 percent of voters view Harrison favorably compared with 43 percent who feel the same way about Graham. Harrison is also reportedly outspending Graham in advertisements in the state. The incumbent, on the other hand has been on Fox News soliciting donations.
South Carolina’s Black voters gave Joe Biden the boost in its February primary that sparked the momentum that eventually landed him as the Democratic nominee. King says the campaign hopes that same enthusiasm will hold steady and give Harrison a win.
“Right now we have over a million voters of color registered to vote,” he said. “Our movement has been targeted on those voters and all South Carolinians.”
Are More Black Voters Opting To Use Early Voting to Cast Their Ballots?
Sept. 30, 2020
Polls suggest Black voters are now 25 percentage points more likely to vote early than in the 2016 presidential election.
According to FiveThirtyEight.com, as many as 1.5 more African Americans could cast their ballots early in 2020 compared with the last election, possibly making a significant difference in battleground states. Both campaigns have undertaken major initiatives to engage Black voters in states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania Wisconsin and Michigan, each seen as crucial.
Still, FiveThirtyEight says, some polls have found that African Americans have real concerns about casting mail or absentee ballots. “I simply do not trust mail-in or absentee ballots,” Patricia Harris of McDonough, Ga. told the Associated Press. About 12,500 mail-in ballots were rejected in the Georgia primary in June. California disqualified more than 100,000 in their March primary.
Despite examples like this, Black voters could show a serious increase in the number of ballots they cast early and may be nearly as likely as white or Hispanic voters to vote by mail. But figures show that African Americans, 60 percent of whom live in the U.S. South, are accustomed to early in-person voting. Several voter advocacy efforts, including one backed by former First Lady Michelle Obama, are encouraging them to keep up that behavior.
Whether they vote in-person or by mail, the likelihood is that there will be an increase in early voting among Blacks, perhaps spurred by a preference to vote by mail. It remains to be seen how Blacks will use polling places on Election Day, Nov. 3.
Biden and Trump Will Face Each Other, Along With 2020’s Biggest Issues in First Debate
Sept. 29, 2020
As what has become an increasingly difficult week for President Trump moves forward, he’ll be facing questions about several recently surfaced issues as well as long term problems in the first of three debates with challenger Joe Biden Tuesday night (Sept. 29) at 9 p.m. EDT.
Fox News’ Chris Wallace will moderate the debate, which takes place at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland. The topics he has selected will cover several subjects, beginning with Trump’s record in the White House and Biden’s while serving as vice president under Barack Obama.
But they will also include Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court; the coronavirus pandemic; the U.S. economy; the nationwide unrest, and the 2020 election’s integrity.
Despite increases in poll numbers over the past few days, Biden will be faced with convincing undecided voters that he can offer solutions to those issues and hopes to avoid apathy among Black voters, who will be crucial in several battleground states.
“I do think that people are motivated,” said State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, a Democrat from Philadelphia told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I also think people are incredibly disheartened by the drain of all that has come with the mismanagement of this pandemic.
“But I often push back on this amorphous idea of enthusiasm because … an enthusiastic vote, an unenthusiastic vote counts the same,” he said. “A vote is a vote.”
Trump is facing major scrutiny after The New York Times released its investigation over his tax returns, which found that Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and none in 10 of the past 15 years.
Another investigation by U.K. network Channel 4 found that his 2016 campaign used data from millions of Black voters in what has been called an attempt at suppressing their votes with attack ads on Facebook.
Vice president Mike Pence will face Sen. Kamala Harris in the only vice presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle on Oct. 7, and the following presidential debates take place Oct. 15 in Nashville, and Oct. 22 in Miami.
Presidential Campaigns Fighting For Black Voter Engagement in Michigan
Sept. 28, 2020
Both the Biden and Trump campaigns know that Black voters in Michigan are crucial in the battleground state that the president won by only 11,000 votes in 2016. But with everything the state has faced in 2020, including the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout that followed, the two campaigns are also learning that engaging Blacks at the polls has become a huge challenge.
Local Democrats have said that they are disturbed that the Biden campaign has not been as engaging as they would like.
“We don’t have any type of engagement in Detroit, and it’s just mind-boggling,” Nicole Small, a member of Detroit’s charter commission told the Associated Press. “And now you have, especially young Black voters and people living in poverty, saying, well, what difference is it going to make if we vote for Biden or if we vote for Trump? They’re being dismissed and overlooked by the Democratic Party.”
Joe Biden visited the state earlier in September, and his running mate Kamala Harris came to both Detroit and Flint last week in a campaign stop. Meanwhile, Donald Trump volunteers have been running a ground game by knocking on doors throughout Michigan. They have also opened a campaign office on Detroit’s heavily Democratic West Side, where residents say they have not seen Republicans before.
But Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, who is African American, told the AP he’s confident that Democrats will show up for Biden..
“A lot of Black folks are having that experience of getting punched in the gut several times in 2020,” Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, who is African American, told the Associated Press. “But I also know that Black folks, Black women in particular, are going to take care of business … Donald Trump is such an existential threat to Black life and Black futures and I think we’re going to show up and make sure that he’s no longer president.”
However, the Republicans, understanding the value of each Michigan vote are also scrambling for Black votes there, too.
“Joe Biden has attempted to paint President Trump as someone he’s not in a veiled attempt to hide his own abysmal racist record on Black America,” said Trump campaign spokesman Ken Farnaso in a statement, according to the AP. “With President Trump in the Oval Office, Black Americans can rest assured that they have a true fighter and advocate working on their behalf.”
On the grassroots level, the difficulty the parties are having with Black voters may come from the rough socioeconomic times they are undergoing in Michigan.
“We are in a dire situation as a Black community so we’ve got to understand our power,” said Ramone Jackson, a Detroit activist who teaches about voting in local elections. “That power, it’s our Congress members, not the president. We’ve got to hold them accountable.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who represents Michigan’s 13th Congressional district, which includes a large part of Detroit and its suburbs tells the AP that she’s preparing a ground game of her own on behalf of the Democrats.
“I tell them this is not just about names on the ballot,” Tlaib said. “This is about the issues that matter to us. It’s about getting closer to ending the broken systems that have been so oppressive and painful for so many of our communities of color.”
In Philadelphia Campaign Stop, Sen. Kamala Harris Talks Boosts For Black Biz, Criminal Justice
Sept. 18, 2020
In an effort to engage Black voters in battleground states, Sen. Kamala Harris, toured Black businesses and organizations in Philadelphia on Thursday. It was her first appearance in the city since her running mate, Joe Biden announced that his campaign would be headquartered there, the Philadelphia Tribune reported.
In her stop, at a “Sister-to-Sister, Mobilizing in Action” event, Harris went through the details of policies she said would address particular issues in the Black community.
“The one thing about this COVID…it has been an accelerator…It has accelerated the disparities. It has highlighted the injustices,” said Harris, according to the Tribune.. “There are the issues that we need to address in our education system, in our criminal justice system, in our economic systems, in our public health system and not one to the exclusion of the others.”
She said that a Biden-Harris administration would provide access to capital for small businesses, which have been suffering much of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“One of our biggest areas of focus is what we need to do around access to capital, so we will put $100 billion targeted at Black and brown communities into low interest loans for small business communities that are working in the community,” she said. “Access to capital is simply about giving people the ability to start up. The entrepreneurship is already in the community but the access to capital is not.”
Regarding criminal justice, she said the campaign is proposing a national ban on chokeholds and carotid artery holds saying that if such a ban were already in place “George Floyd would still be alive today.”
“It is about what we need to do around police accountability as well as reform of the system as a whole. We need a national use of force standard,” said Harris. “In many jurisdictions, when there is an excessive use of force, the question that is asked about that use of force, is, Was that use of force reasonable? We all know you can reason away just about anything. The more fair question to ask is was that use of force necessary?”
New Black Voter Outreach Initiative Will Target 12 States, Run Digital PSAs and Ads
Sept. 17, 2020
A new major outreach initiative to get African American and other marginalized communities to the polls has been launched as the 2020 presidential election approaches.
The Black Voters Matter Fund says on its website that its intention is to increase voter registration, advocate for policies to expand voter access, develop election staff, candidates and training, and occasionally fund activities related to elections.
This latest effort is aimed at getting voters engaged in 12 different states in the south and midwest through radio ads, digital PSAs and voter caravans.
“With just seven weeks until Election Day, it is more important than ever that voters remain active, informed, and engaged,” said LaTosha Brown, BVMF co-founder in a statement. “We are in the midst of a historic election year, one where Americans — particularly Black Americans — face the compounding crises of a global pandemic, record-high unemployment, police brutality, and rampant voter suppression.
“But with the power of our votes,” she continued, “we can hold leaders accountable and create a path toward change in our communities. Today, we are launching this initiative to continue building that power and to help Black voters use the power of the polls this November.”
The ads began on Monday (Sept. 14), and will air until the day before the election, Nov. 2. The caravans will be led by 15-passenger vans and will drive around metropolitan areas in key states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
The BVMF announced last week its partnership with BET and the National Urban League for National Black Voter Day on Friday (Sept. 18).
Black Religious Leaders Blast Trump Ad Showing Violent Protests With Biden In Church
Sept. 16, 2020
The leaders of an African American church in Wilmington, Del., say a Donald Trump campaign ad that shows footage Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden kneeling in a church sanctuary is racist and they want an apology for it.
Rev. Silvester S. Beaman, who is pastor of Bethel AME Church, which is shown in the digital ad spot told Religion News Service that it depicts church leaders and congregations as “thuggish rule breakers.”
It shows multiple videos of violent protests, then cuts to footage of Biden kneeling in Bethel AME in front of several church leaders, including Beaman. It ends with a visual that says, “stop Joe Biden and his rioters”
The footage is of Biden’s visit to Bethel in June after the death of George Floyd when massive protest began.
“The ad is overtly racist and offensive on numerous levels,” Beaman said. “It is a racist attack on the African American church, and because it was an attack on the Christian church, it should be offensive to every Christian and person of faith.”
The leadership of the African Methodist Episcopal Church denomination sent a draft of a statement on the ad to RNS, also decrying the depiction.
“This ad subtly incites white terrorism against people of color and attacks the Black Church and Black people for refusing to bow down to the idol called white supremacy,” the statement said.
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