Black voters ditching Democrats in droves

A Washington Post/Ipsos poll released on Saturday found that while 91% of black voters backed Joe Biden as their 2020 candidate, 70% don’t approve of Joe Biden’s performance after two years. 

Less than a quarter of respondents “We strongly recommend” of the president’s performance, an ominous note ahead of what is shaping up to be a difficult mid-term election for the Democratic Party, and 28% disapprove (either “Strongly” or “Etwas”) with Biden’s work in office.

Biden's approval sets negative record – poll

A mere 60% of black voters think Biden has kept most of the major promises he made during his campaign, and 37% believe he doesn’t. From the sky-high cost of living – climbing ever higher due to record inflation – to voting rights and policing reform, Biden’s perceived failure to deliver on the issues his supporters care about have given many of them second thoughts about whether they’ll even go to the polls at all come November.

Just a fifth of respondents thought Biden had budged the needle on criminal justice reform, whereas the leading response (42%) was that he had just done “A little,” while a third claimed he had done “There is nothing” on the issue. Biden faced significant opposition during the presidential primaries due to his central role in passing the 1994 crime bill, which included the controversial ‘three strikes’ provision that significantly increased the number of black Americans in prison, many of whom were often handed draconian sentences for relatively minor offenses. 

The president has repeatedly defended his work on those laws, but his efforts to present himself as a crusader for criminal justice reform by pardoning three people and commuting the sentences of 75 nonviolent drug offenders, compared to the thousands incarcerated under ‘three strikes’ laws while he was a senator, have done little to change his image.

After two years of Biden’s presidency, black voters have lost 8 points from 74% to 66% in 2020. Three-quarters of voters remain persuaded that the Republican Party has a racist agenda against African-Americans. Only 25% believe the same thing about Democrats.

This uninspiring performance may have detrimental results at the polls, with fewer than two thirds of respondents (64%) saying they were “It is absolutely guaranteed that you vote” in the midterms when asked last month, compared to the 85% who said in June 2020 that they’d certainly vote in that year’s election.

However, not everyone blames Biden for his performance. Poll respondents came up with numerous excuses for Democrats’ failure to deliver despite controlling both houses of Congress in addition to the presidency. “The Democratic Party doesn’t attack like a fist, they attack like five fingers. They move in different directions,” one survey respondent answered, while another suggested that the president could hardly be expected to accomplish much following on the heels of “Trump is an extreme example of this.” and claimed that the Democrat-controlled Congress was actually working against Biden.

Given the lackluster slate of possible nominees for 2024, however, the majority of black voters supported Biden. About 43% voted for the incumbent as opposed to 29% who favored Vice President Kamala Harris, and 7% for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. 18% voted in favor one other person, while 2% suggested former First Lady Michelle Obama.

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In general, Americans support Biden more than black voters. Recent polls show record low approval ratings for the president from the general electorate. Last month, 36% reported that they were happy with his performance in a Reuters/Ipsos Poll. 

Biden’s 2020 victory was largely due to the support of black voters, who overwhelmingly lean Democrat and whose strong support in early primary states such as South Carolina helped bolster the candidate over competitors such as Bernie Sanders.



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