Black Voters Saved Biden's Neck Last Time-- Will They Do It Again?

Updated: Jun 5

Two corporate Democrats dedicated to preserving the status quo

The 2020 Democratic presidential primary season started off very badly for the party's corporate establishment. Bernie won Iowa, then New Hampshire and then Nevada, the first 3 states. The corrupt party establishment was panic-stricken. Imagine the corporatists watching Iowa on February 3:

  • Bernie- 45,652 (26.5%)

  • Mayo Pete- 43,209 (25.1%)

  • Elizabeth Warren- 34,909 (20.3%)

  • Biden- 23,605 (13.7%)

  • Klobuchar- 21,100 (12.2%)

11 serious candidates withdrew before Iowa:

  • Conservative shitbag John Delaney, who endorsed Biden

  • Cory Booker, who endorsed Biden

  • Kamala Harris, who endorsed Biden

  • Steve Bullock, who endorsed Biden

  • Kirsten Gillibrand, who endorsed Biden

  • Seth Moulton, who endorsed Biden

  • Beto, who endorsed Biden

  • Joe Sestak, who endorsed Klobuchar

  • Julian Castro, who endorsed Warren

  • Marianne Williamson, who endorsed Bernie

  • Bill de Blasio, who endorsed Bernie

On Feb 11, New Hampshire didn't make any of the corporate swine feel any better than Iowa had. It was Bernie again-- and Biden in a pathetic 5th place this time:

  • Bernie- 76,384 (25.6%)

  • Mayo Pete- 72,454 (24.3%)

  • Klobuchar- 58,714 (19.7%)

  • Elizabeth Warren- 27,429 (9.2%)

  • Biden- 24,944 (8.4%)

That day Deval Patrick, Michael Bennet and Andrew Yang each suspended his campaign and endorsed Mr. Nothing Will Fundamentally Change... because they like a loser?

Nevada was next up, Feb 22 and, although Biden came in second to Bernie-- it was a very distant second, with Bernie getting more than double the number of votes Biden did:

  • Bernie- 41,075 (40.5%)

  • Biden- 19,179 (18.9%)

  • Mayo Pete- 17,598 (17.3%)

  • Elizabeth Warren- 11,703 (11.5%)

But the fix was already in for Biden. The following week, was South Carolina and Jim Clyburn threw his considerable weight behind Biden in a state where 60% of the Democratic electorate is Black. Meanwhile Obama persuaded the other candidates to get on board the Stop Bernie Train. The South Carolina results:

  • Biden- 262,336 (48.6%) including every county in the state

  • Bernie- 106,605 (19.8%)

  • Tom Steyer- 61,140 (11.3%)

  • Mayo Pete- 44,217 (8.2%)

  • Elizabeth Warren- 38,120 (7.1%)

Biden won 61% of the Black vote in South Carolina. With Super Tuesday 3 days later, Obama's behind the curtain orchestration was impeccable in creating the appearance of momentum Biden needed to become the presumptive nominee (and the soon-to-be-second-worst president in contemporary history). The day after South Carolina, Mayo Pete dropped out, making it clear that he didn't want to split conservative Democrats and let Bernie win. The day before Super Tuesday, Klobuchar did likewise, endorsing Biden. Steyer also dropped out and endorsed Biden. Right before SuperTuesday Obama delivered Biden endorsements from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Rep Bobby Scott (VA), Tammy Duckworth (IL) and Harry Reid (NV).

Biden came in first in Alabama with 63.3% to Bernie's second place finish with 16.5%. In Arkansas it was Biden first with 40.6% followed by Bernie with 22.4%. Bernie won California with 36.0% to second-place Biden with 27.9%. Bernie won Colorado with 37.0% to Biden's 24.6%. Maine was essentially a tie-- Biden 33.4%, Bernie 32.4%. Biden came in first in Massachusetts with 33.4% Bernie (26.6%) and Elizabeth Warren (21.4%) trailing. Minnesota went for Biden 38.6% to Bernie's 29.9%. North Carolina gave Biden 43.0% to Bernie's 24.2%. Oklahoma was also Biden country-- 38.7% to Bernie's 25.4%. Tennessee went for Biden over Bernie 41.7% to 25.0%. Texas was closer but Biden beat Bernie 34.6% to 29.9%. Utah went for Bernie over Biden, 36.1% to 18.4%. Vermont went to Bernie 50.6% to Biden's 21.9%. And Virginia weighed in for Biden 53.3% to 23.1%.

An odd coalition of conservative Democrats and Blacks gave Biden his win.

This morning, the Washington Post published a piece by Cleve Wootson, Scott Clement, Matthew Brown and Emily Guskin highlighting a degree of African American buyer's remorse for the big support they gave Biden, not just in the primaries but more so in the general.

There's a strong feeling that "Biden fulfilled the campaign promise that mattered most... instant he was inaugurated: simply not being named Donald Trump. But in the 18 months since then, voters say they "haven't seen Biden deliver on the myriad promises" they believe he made to to Black voters. "There has been little movement on police reform or voting rights protections." Like everyone else, Black voters are concerned about inflation, especially in gas prices, food and rent. And he's failed so far on gun control as well. Black voters say he's well intentioned but not as capable as he portrayed himself in the campaign. One woman in southern Georgia told the quartet of reporters that "He’s not really holding up to his end of the bargain. Some things he’s promised. Some things he’s done. But we are still struggling as a whole. We are all still struggling."

"Roughly 9 in 10 Black voters, they wrote, "supported Biden in the 2020 election, but a Washington Post-Ipsos poll of more than 1,200 Black Americans this spring finds what appears to be diminishing support: 7 in 10 approve of President Biden’s job performance, and fewer than one quarter 'strongly approve.' A 60 percent majority of Black Americans say Biden is keeping most of his major campaign promises, but 37 percent say he is not. Writ large, the poll shows much stronger support for Biden in the Black community than among most others groups. But that support is growing less intense among this loyal constituency heading into the midterm elections, and younger Black Americans are significantly less enthusiastic about the president than older ones."

Black registered voters still overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates in the midterms, according to the poll, but they are less likely to say the election matters to them than they did before the Biden-Trump contest, and fewer say they are certain to vote.
Many also expressed relatively little faith in the institution of voting itself: Black Americans are less confident that all eligible citizens will have a fair opportunity to vote than White or Hispanic Americans who were asked the same question.
Black voters are particularly important to the president and the political party he leads. [Black] voters... helped propel Biden to an 11,779-vote victory in Georgia, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate prevailed in the state since 1992. And a month after Biden won the White House, two Democrats narrowly won Georgia’s Senate seats, handing the party what many Black voters hoped would be a governing majority large enough to enact sweeping changes.
But those changes have been slow in coming, particularly on issues that matter to Black Americans. That’s in part because the Senate is split 50-50 between the parties (with Vice President Harris breaking ties), and passage of most bills through the chamber requires 60 votes.
Efforts to reform police-- demands heard nationwide after the murder of George Floyd-- stalled in Congress and ended with an executive order that Biden acknowledged did not go as far as he’d hoped even as he signed it. Rising inflation has eaten away at people’s incomes and threatens Biden’s political prospects. The federal government has done little to bolster voting protections, despite a raft of state legislation that activists say puts obstacles between Black people and voting booths.
Asked about the failure of a Democratic voting right effort in the Senate, 46 percent of Black Americans say they are disappointed and another 15 percent say they are angry. But among those with negative reactions, 84 percent blame Biden “a little” or “not at all.”
While several of the people polled who were later contacted by The Post expressed frustration at the slow or nonexistent progress, many stressed that the blame did not lie solely with the president.
Overall, Biden’s 70 percent job approval rating among Black Americans remains much higher than among the public overall. In an April Post-ABC poll, 42 percent of all Americans approved of Biden while 52 percent disapproved.
About two-thirds of Black Americans (66 percent) say that Biden is sympathetic to the problems of Black people in this country while 32 percent say he is not. That’s a decrease from 74 percent who said Biden was sympathetic in 2020, but still contrasts sharply with how Black Americans see the Republican Party. Three-quarters of Black Americans say the Republican Party is racist against Black Americans; a quarter say the same about the Democratic Party.
... [M]any Black Americans do not let Biden entirely off the hook. They say he has not done enough, for example, to push through changes to a criminal justice system that they widely condemn as slanted against minorities.
Just over 1 in 5 Black Americans say Biden has done “a great deal” or “a good amount” to reduce discrimination in the criminal justice system, while 76 percent say he has done “little” or “nothing.”
Biden has acted unilaterally in some areas to implement police reform. His Justice Department implemented a ban on chokeholds and carotid restraints for federal officers, began requiring agents to wear body cameras, and severely limited the use of “no-knock warrants” like the one that factored into the 2020 killing of Louisville resident Breonna Taylor. But because they are presidential orders and not laws, those changes affect only federal officers and agents, not the thousands of local and state police departments across the country.
Biden also recently pardoned three people and commuted the sentences of 75 nonviolent drug offenders, amid calls for leniency in a system that disproportionately affects people of color.
Age continues to be a dividing line in Black people’s opinions of Biden, continuing a pattern that was first evident in the 2020 presidential primaries. Biden’s approval rating peaks at 86 percent among Black Americans ages 65 and older, but drops to 74 percent among those ages 40-64 and to 60 percent among those ages 18-39. Biden’s approval rating is also much higher among Black registered voters than among those who are not registered to vote, 86 percent vs. 40 percent.
While Biden is not on the ballot, Black voters’ opinions of him mirror their opinions of other Democrats who are up for election. Asked who they support in congressional elections, 88 percent of Black registered voters say they would support the Democratic candidate in their district, similar to Biden’s share of the Black vote in 2020.
But just about half of Black voters, 49 percent, say the outcome of this November’s election matters “a great deal” to them, down from 77 percent who said the same thing about the presidential election in June 2020. Similarly, the share of Black voters who say they are “absolutely certain to vote” has dropped from 85 percent in 2020 to 62 percent this year, a 23-point drop that is larger than the 12-point drop among White voters.
Just about half of Black Americans (49 percent) say the things that Biden is doing as president are either “somewhat” or “very” good for African Americans, while 12 percent say what he’s doing is somewhat or very bad and 37 percent say the things he is doing are neither good nor bad.
Biden has said he is running for reelection, and as the 2024 Democratic primary approaches, 43 percent of Black Democrats say they would prefer Biden to have the nomination, followed by Harris at 29 percent. Seven percent picked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had 2 percent of respondents volunteer his name, and former first lady Michelle Obama had 1 percent.

UPDATE: What Would Have Happened If...

A DWT frequent corespondent told me he still wonders what would’ve happened had Bernie sympathizers outside the campaign run independent ads containing excerpts from Biden’s heart-felt eulogy for his friend, grotesque racist dog Strom Thurmond on African American radio stations in South Carolina. Doing so would’ve been the antithesis of Bernie’s basic ethos, but others could’ve run them without his consent. Party mandarins in thrall to Clyburn, the Clintons and Obama would’ve still pulled out all of the stops in their Anybody But Bernie drive, but they might not have been able to use the Clyburn machine in South Carolina to resuscitate a basically moribund Biden campaign. The South Carolina primary might’ve been the mandarins' last clear chance to thwart Bernie’s growing momentum.