Biden must continue to expand his approach to Black voters, a group of Democratic strategists say

(Gerry Broome/Associated Press)

Biden must continue to expand his approach to Black voters, a group of Democratic strategists say


Dec. 22, 2023

Some top Democrats are concerned that a decline in Black voter turnout, along with other challenges, could doom President Biden and his party in 2024.

A group of Democrats are offering new analysis of the latest campaigns in Georgia and Michigan, using these battleground states as a model to attract more Black voters next year and beyond. They argue that Democratic power players must think and spend in new ways, moving beyond efforts that may be last-minute or superficial, as they try to reassemble Biden’s 2020 coalition.

The days of the token fish fries and the one-off church visit are over, wrote the authors of the analysis by strategists widely credited with helping sway Georgia and Michigan toward Biden. Black voters have always needed an approach to voter engagement as diverse as that of the Black Voting Coalition.

Biden has long depended on Black voters, first as a senator in Delaware and especially during the 2020 South Carolina primary, which gave him a decisive victory that consolidated much of the Democratic field behind him. And his campaign says the president’s reelection efforts already reflect the priorities and approaches advocated by outside strategists.

The campaign is designing comprehensive and robust programs in battleground states to mobilize and engage Black voters, said Michael Tyler, the campaign’s communications director. He noted that the campaign is already running targeted digital ads and building outreach programs in Black communities, months earlier than presidential campaigns have typically launched such efforts.

Yet only 50% of Black adults said they approved of Biden in a December poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. That compares with 86% in July 2021, with the gap raising concerns about his re-election prospects.

The new report, shared exclusively with the Associated Press and presented privately to Democratic power players, says as part of several recommendations that the left should more regularly engage all Black voters, including the most reluctant, while strengthening arguments about abortion rights in Black communities. .

Lauren Groh-Wargo, a leader of the push and longtime adviser to Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, said: People need to see something different; they need to see you coming to them and asking for their voice in their cultural spaces.

Authors include veterans of Abrams’ surgery and Michigan’s efforts to pass a referendum on abortion rights

elect governor. Gretchen Whitmer. Abrams lost her second bid against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, but Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock defeated Herschel Walker to retain his Senate seat, buoyed in part by years of work by Abrams and other organizers.

The report examines why the two states’ 2022 voters differed from other racially diverse battleground states. The contributors want to share their conclusions with the party’s biggest donors and top strategists, including those leading Biden’s 2024 campaign. One of Biden’s top campaign aides, Quentin Fulks, ran Warnock’s campaign, a point Tyler noted in his response to the report. Fulks and Tyler were both born in Georgia.

The campaign’s approach so far is being led by … a native Georgian from a rural county who won statewide office in Georgia last cycle and helped drive historic turnout in one of the nation’s most competitive states country, Tyler said.

Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are the seven states that will be crucial in determining the Electoral College next year. In these states, Black turnout in 2022 fell by about 22% on average from the 2018 midterm elections, according to data analyzes from multiple Democratic firms. Lagging black support for Biden in three of those states next fall could cut off his path to the required 270 electoral votes.

According to the analysis, Black turnout in Michigan in 2022 was about 90% of 2018 totals. But among Black voters under 35, 2022 turnout was 96% of 2018 levels, significantly higher than in other battleground states, including Georgia . That cemented Whitmer’s nearly 11-point victory and the referendum on abortion rights, which passed by 13 points. The analysis found that Black voters in Michigan supported the initiative by a higher percentage than any other race or ethnicity; This finding was recently replicated during the Ohio abortion referendum, the authors said.

We were receptive to the research that showed us how much resonance this would have in Black communities, said Michigan Democratic Chairwoman Lavora Barnes, the first Black woman to hold office and co-author of the report.

We made it part of a broader message about rights and freedom, she added, saying that because of their historical experiences with oppression, Black Americans are particularly focused on having our rights taken away.

Whitmer, who embraced the nonpartisan campaign for abortion rights, said the lessons should continue as some Republicans propose national abortion restrictions.

My generation assumed that these rights would always remain intact for us and our children, the 52-year-old governor said recently. Lo and behold, here we have to fight again and again to protect these rights.

Black voter turnout in Georgia, meanwhile, was about 92% of 2018 levels; Black voters over 50 exceeded their 2018 mark.

If Black voter turnout in Georgia had followed the 2022 battleground average, the analysis calculates that about 175,000 fewer voters would have cast ballots in November. With Warnock winning more than nine of 10 black votes, that deficit almost certainly would have meant his defeat against Walker, the only statewide Republican Party candidate to lose in Georgia last year.

And if Black voter turnout in other battleground states mirrored that of Georgia in 2022, Democrats would almost certainly have defeated Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and possibly won a seat in the North Carolina Senate, expanding their narrow majority would have expanded, the authors claim.

Biden was in Milwaukee on Wednesday to tout his economic arguments and his administration’s support for minority-owned businesses. Milwaukee is also the site of one of the campaign’s first organizing efforts aimed at Black voters, a commitment of money and staff that Biden advisers say demonstrates their commitment to engaging the entire electorate.

These types of programs and some of the recommendations from Georgia are indeed challenging and expensive. Abrams’ operation began a decade ago with an effort to expand voter participation in Georgia, focusing on Black and other nonwhite residents who rarely or never voted. Now Georgia’s political footprint includes hundreds of paid canvassing campaigns, sophisticated digital outreach, voter registration and door-knocking campaigns, even in years when there are no elections.

The report says that over time, the investment creates so-called super voters who make the Democratic investment worthwhile. The document details tactics Democrats have used in Georgia and Michigan that the authors say could be scaled up in other states.

The authors note that in 2018, when Abrams first ran for governor, Georgia had more than 1.1 million Black voters who were considered low-inclination and unlikely to vote. After the 2022 elections, that dropped to



and to


Conversely, the super-voter measure, defined as people who cast three consecutive general elections, increased from about 525,000 black Georgians after 2016 to more than 850,000 after 2022.

However, donors and most campaigns still lean toward traditional turnout models that target regular or semi-regular voters. They believe that Abrams’ approach costs too much money per vote.

We need other groups to reach out to inactive voters because that’s not what most campaigns are designed for, said Preston Elliot, Whitmers 2022 campaign manager, who was not involved in the analysis. He complimented figures like Groh-Wargo, Abrams and Barnes, but cautioned that the latest efforts come down to resources.

There are plenty of tasks available for everyone to play their part, Elliot said. But ultimately we are talking about finite money here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hot Topics

Related Articles