The Race for Georgia’s Black Voters Continues as Atlanta Debate Between Trump and Biden Looms

June 24, 2024
5 mins read
The Race for Georgia's Black Voters Continues as Atlanta Debate Between Trump and Biden Looms

Samuel Warren, a Black retiree from southwest Georgia who cuts grass for side income, recently explained the financial bottom line on why he plans to vote for Republican Donald Trump rather than President Joe Biden in their looming rematch Nov. 5.

Warren’s preferred candidate in this year’s presidential election is in contrast to the typical Black voter in swing states like Georgia, where 88% of the Black voters cast ballots for the Democrat’s Biden-Harris ticket in the 2020 presidential contest that was decided by less than 12,000 votes.

There has been a concerted effort by the Trump and Biden presidential campaigns to woo the Black vote during recent visits to metro Atlanta, a world away from Warren’s home in rural Ellaville, a town of about 2,000 residents, roughly one third of whom are Black.

“I don’t care too much for Biden, Trump was alright. Trump helped people,” Warren said earlier this month while stopping by the Gas N Go in Ellaville for a cold drink. “He helped the people. I got my stimulus check, but Biden got in there, I ain’t got nothing.”

“He not only helped me, he helped the rest of us, not only Black, but white too,” Warren said. “Biden got in there and we ain’t got nothing. They’re always talking about ‘we’re gonna get it, we’re gonna get it.’”

If Warren and other Black voters withhold their typical support for Democrats on their ballots, it could spell the difference in a Georgia general election expected to be decided by a small slice of the electorate.

The stakes are high for both recent White House occupants as they head into a key televised debate in Atlanta later this week.

The Republican Party has gained ground in Georgia since the last election, and perceptions about the high costs of inflation have caused some Black voters to lose enthusiasm for Biden. Several political experts say the Biden-Harris ticket is at risk of losing some votes to Trump, but the more likely outcome is that a larger number of apathetic left-leaning voters won’t show up at the polls.

Trump and Biden easily won the March 12 presidential preference primaries in Georgia, where 95% of Black voters picked a Democratic ballot, a figure consistent with primaries in 2016 and 2020.

In recent months, Trump, Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris have made campaign stops along the campaign trail in Georgia to court Black voters, as well as a key youth demographic.

According to a May 20 poll conducted by Pew Research Center, the Democratic Party has lost support from Black college graduates in recent years, falling from 93% in 2012 to 79% in 2023.  While 7% of Black voters 50 and older identify as or lean Republican, 17% of Black voters under 50 do the same.

“Black voters will play a key role in determining the outcome of the 2024 presidential election,” wrote Kiana Cox, a Pew senior researcher on race and ethnicity. “And while Black voters remain overwhelmingly Democratic and support Joe Biden over Donald Trump by a wide margin, Biden’s advantage among this group is not as wide as it was four years ago.”

Several recent national polls forecasting the 2024 presidential election indicate strong support for Trump among Black voters in swing states like Georgia. A New York Times/Siena national poll indicates that 23% of Black voters favor Trump, which would be a significant victory for a Republican Party that has not received that level of Black support for its presidential candidate since Richard Nixon in 1960, according to Alan Abramowitz, professor emeritus of political science at Emory University.

“Of course, none of this evidence proves that there will not be a dramatic increase in Black support for Donald Trump and other Republican candidates in 2024 — and even a small increase could be important given how close the key swing states could be in November,” Abramowitz wrote in a March 27 article published by The Center for Politics. “It is possible that recent national and swing state polls are picking up a trend that has only begun since the 2022 midterm election.”

Trump, Biden campaign stops in Georgia

On May 18, Biden delivered a commencement address at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, a historically Black college, where he highlighted the record amount of federal money invested in universities serving minority students during his first term in the White House.

While Biden renewed his call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, about 100 protesters marched near campus in protest against his appearance, largely because of his continued support for Israel in its war with Hamas-led militant groups.

On June 18, Harris made her sixth visit to Georgia this year to discuss how to curb gun violence in Black communities during a youth summit in Atlanta hosted by Quavious “Quavo” Marshall, a member of the former Migos rap group.

A few days earlier, Harris was in Atlanta for a one-on-one interview with TV host Steve Harvey before an audience of several thousand people at the 100 Black Men of America national conference. Harris stressed the importance of making more Black voters aware of the various economic investments made under the Biden-Harris administration while also advocating for their support in the upcoming election.

In April, Trump’s visit to a Chick-fil-A in west Atlanta near the campuses of several historically Black colleges and universities became a viral moment nationally. The former president’s campaign had Trump purchase milkshakes for customers and pose for photographs with an audience primarily composed of Black employees, college activists, and customers.

Likewise, Trump’s Super PAC, Make America Great Again, is targeting Black voters in middle Georgia with TV ads claiming that Biden’s economic and immigration policies should cause him to lose the support of Black, Hispanic and young voters.

Rasheed Canton, who graduated from Morehouse in May, said that Biden and Harris endorsing a college student loan forgiveness program that has provided billions in debt relief is a good way for them to get young Black voters to the polls in November.

“From a political standpoint, choosing not to vote is the same as voting against what you believe, because you’re empowering the other side by not showing up,” Canton said.

“Student loan forgiveness impacts (Blacks) disproportionately, but I know it is that hard for any administration to say ‘we’re doing this for Blacks’ because we’re only 12% or 13% of (U.S.) population at most,” Canton said. “But when you can sell programs that have been good for all people, that is powerful.”

Polls suggest Biden trailing Trump in Georgia

According to Pew, Black Georgia residents accounted for nearly half of the state’s 1.9 million increase in eligible voters since 2000.

The New York Times published a poll earlier this month that had 26% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 expressing support for Biden while 30% said they would vote for Trump. A Fox News national survey released on June 19 indicates that Trump could receive 27% of Black votes in November, a threefold increase from the 2020 election.  However, in 2020, a similar poll by Fox News predicted Biden would get 79% of Black votes, but he actually won 92%.

Other polls this year show Biden’s support is declining in Georgia.

The New York Post’s front page on Friday featured a recent poll showing Trump leading Biden in swing states and Thursday’s Emerson College Polling/The Hill survey found Trump leading Biden in Georgia 45% to 41%.

In a Pew survey conducted in May, 77% of registered Black voters prefer Biden to Trump. However, about half of those respondents said that if given the opportunity to choose, they said they would prefer to replace both candidates with someone else.

Retiree Vincent Thornton, born and raised in Ellaville, described Trump as a “so-so” president during his previous term and said he’s backing Biden this year.

Thornton said Trump’s recent felony convictions in connection with falsifying business records to hide hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels factored into his decision.

“I just look at what he had done for all the felonies he got. And I don’t understand why if he can get felonies and still run for president, and if a person out here, like a poor person like me, gets a felony or something like that, they can’t vote.

Reporter Ross Williams contributed to this report.

The post Georgia’s Black voters could be key as Biden and Trump vie for support ahead of Atlanta debate  appeared first on Georgia Recorder.

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