Black voters may be central to pushing Trump out of office. But failing to vote will end up doing the exact opposite.
Here’s why Black votes hold such significance and what it would mean for the election.
President Trump has argued that he has been the best President for Black people since Abraham Lincoln – but this (and frankly, all of Trump) is proving a hard sell.
The President garnered just over 8% of Black voters in 2016, and this year, polls so far suggest he is not doing much better.
Yet, concerns are rife over what Black voters’ impact will be during the 2020 presidential election. The widespread race protests and the Black Lives Matter campaign have shown the significance (and scale) of our concerns regarding the US’s state today.
These issues are lending Black voices a prominence in this election year, which has translated to a renewed significance for the Black vote.
Analysts believe Black votes will play a central role in the elections and maybe the tipping point in the deluge that might sweep President Trump out of office.
The presence of Black votes increasingly looks likely to be just as pivotal as its absence in this election. Black voters may be central to pushing Trump out of office.
But failing to vote will end up doing the exact opposite. Here’s why Black votes hold such significance and what it would mean for the election.
The Power of Black Voters
2020 has been mostly about Black people. From the disparate effect of COVID-19 on Black people to the killing of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter protests, the tone-deaf (and plain racist) actions of Karens, and the shooting of Jacob Blake. Black people have been loud and angry this year.
Our perennial struggle against systemic racism has come into the spotlight once again. We are rewarded with a unique opportunity at this moment.
More people are hearing Black people, creating a storm of emotion against proponents of inequity in the US. Black votes are not only influential on their own this time around. They’re also bringing their friends and well-wishers along.
Also, Black people have been stung into action. More people are sitting up and paying attention. We stood up firm for Obama in 2008 and 2012, and more people see that it’s time to stand up again.
According to The New York Times, the Black vote is at the heart of efforts to take back the US and set it on the path to equality and justice. Only, “Black voters are coming for Trump” this election year.
Apart from the fact that Biden seems a preferable option, people are coming for Trump because they genuinely fear what four more years will bring born out of fear of the racism that has cost the lives of so many Black men and women.
The fact that we see “a president who does nothing to stop it.”
There’s no doubt that Black voters will likely be the tipping point in this election. But the question is, what kind of tipping point exactly will it turn out to be? One that takes us towards Biden for its overwhelming presence, or one that pushes us right back into the arms of Trump for its conspicuous absence?
The Waning Black Vote
Commentators all agree that Black votes have been falling recently. During the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, Black voter turnout was at its highest ever. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2008, turnout was 65%, and in 2012, it was 67%.
However, the voting energy was not sustained in 2016, when Black turnout dropped to 60%. Although it initially seemed a minor 7-point decline, subsequent research has discovered that this decline proved costly.
According to Gallup, the 7 points that Hilary Clinton lost amongst Black voters were enough to cost her Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
In turn, these states’ losses cost valuable votes amongst the Electoral College and ultimately led to Clinton’s defeat in the election, despite winning the popular vote.
Once again, in 2020, these states will prove vital in the election run-up. Also, states like Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Ohio are all regarded as “toss-ups” this year, meaning even a 5% increase in Black votes may mean victory in these states.
We see signs that Black votes may be divided amongst those who want to see an end to a government that encourages racism and those who don’t see the point of voting.
One of Trump’s tactics in 2016, which ultimately led to his victory, was to paint Clinton as just as bad a candidate or even worse than he.
The Trump campaign has tried to play this card so far and would have succeeded it not for the unmitigated disaster the administration has faced with the COVID-19 pandemic so far.
Unfortunately, the strategy still seems to be working. Currently, a growing number of young Black people see little difference between Trump and Biden.
According to a poll by the American University School of Public Affairs, less than half (46%) of young Black people between 18 to 29 have anything positive to say about Joe Biden.
About the same number say they plan to vote for him in the November elections.
31% say they definitely or most likely won’t vote in the coming election, and another 49% confess voting “doesn’t make a difference anyway. The sentiment about voting, as expressed by one young Black voter to The New York Times, is “They’ve been telling us to do that [voting] for so long, and we’ve done it – and look at everything that’s still going on.”
Many young people fail to see how much things can change because it feels like we’ve been here and done this before.
While there’s no arguing that it seems US citizens and the majority of elected officials prefer to skirt around the serious issues, the truth is there’s no more powerful weapon than your vote.
And frankly, we would be playing right into Trump’s hands (and the hands of people like him) by failing to get out there and do our part.
Trump Would Prefer For You Not To Vote
Donald Trump has won by the absence of Black votes before, and he will do everything in his power to ensure that’s the case once again. The tarnishing of the electoral process, the campaign against mail-in ballots, and surreptitious reduction in polling centers are just some of the steps already being taken to deny your right to vote.
Don’t capitulate by giving them what they want and failing to make your voice heard at this moment. Black people have made their voices heard in the most visceral way possible through protests this year.
It’s now time to go one step further and register your displeasure in the final way possible – by exercising the power of your vote.