CNN is sounding the alarm for the Democrats, warning in a piece on Tuesday that former Vice President Joe Biden is underperforming while President Donald Trump is over-performing with black voters.
“Joe Biden’s advantage over Trump with Black voters is currently smaller than Hillary Clinton’s was,” read the headline on Tuesday from CNN’s Harry Enten.
The opening paragraphs of Enten’s article note that despite Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests nationwide since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the incumbent GOP president is outperforming expectations against the presumptive Democrat nominee in the black community. Despite a drop for Trump in national polls during the timeframe of the protests, with black voters Trump remains firmly where he was before—and Biden is not gaining any support either.
“The death of George Floyd and subsequent protests reshaped the presidential race. It brought race relations, racism and police brutality to the forefront,” Enten wrote. “In that time, former Vice President Joe Biden’s advantage over President Donald Trump expanded from about six points to closer to 10 points. Interestingly, however, Trump continues to do something perhaps unexpectedly among Black voters: Hold his own against Biden relative to many people’s expectations.”
Enten analyzed at least ten surveys that featured live interviews since the beginning of BLM protests, accounting for more than 1,000 total black voters. What he found was bad for Biden, and good for Trump.
“Biden leads in those polls by an 83% to 8%, or 75-point, margin,” Enten wrote. “That, of course, is a huge advantage for Biden, but it also represents a small improvement for Trump since 2016. Hillary Clinton was ahead of Trump by a 79-point margin among Black registered voters in the pre-election polls taken right before the 2016 election, as compiled by the New York Times’ Nate Cohn. Biden, for what it’s worth, is equaling Clinton’s 83% in those polls. Trump’s picking up a lot of the vote that went to third-party candidates.”
While the percentages on the margins in the black community are very small in the “grand scheme,” Enten notes, this stronger-than-expected performance by Trump with black voters and weaker-than-expected showing from Biden could make a huge difference in a close election.
“Given the way margins of error work (i.e. it gets smaller as the result gets more extreme), this slight improvement for Trump from 2016 is statistically significant,” Enten wrote. “Biden currently has such a large lead overall that Trump’s small gain among Black voters doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of the 2020 election. But if the race for president tightens, Trump’s small gain with Black voters could make a difference. It could cost Biden 0.5 points nationally on the whole compared to where Clinton ended up. That may not seem like a lot, though it could make the difference in a close election. And, of course, Biden’s margin with Black voters may tighten further if the margin with other voters also shifts.”
CNN is hardly the first to notice Biden’s serious problem in the black community. USA Today earlier in July published a feature piece headlined “Young Black voters say they aren’t enthusiastic about a Joe Biden presidency.”
In it, author Rebecca Morin quotes a number of black voters who are unimpressed with Biden. Then Morin noted a trend that Enten later picked up on at CNN: Biden has a polling problem with black voters.
“With the November election four months away, polling shows Biden’s support with younger Black voters trailing significantly behind that of older Black voters,” Morin wrote. “And while polls show the majority of young Black voters support Biden over President Donald Trump, many are unenthusiastic at best or hesitant at worst.”
Morin later cited a Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape analysis published in May—before the rise of the BLM protests—in the Washington Post that found young black voters have significantly soured on Biden. It found that 91 percent of black voters ages 65 and up planned to vote for Biden, but that only 68 percent of black voters ages 18 to 29 planned to back Biden—23 percent less than their elders in the black community. Compared with 2016, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton won 93 percent of black voters 65 and older while she won 85 percent of younger black voters. Assuming this data is accurate, that represents a significant drop-off in support from Clinton to Biden—in just one presidential election cycle—among young black voters. In fact, Morin noted that the survey also found 13 percent of young black voters intended to vote for Trump—an increase from 2016.
Back in April, McClatchy’s Alex Roarty published his own story detailing how Democrats are “worried” about Trump’s strength with young black and Hispanic voters.
Roarty cited a February briefing from Guy Cecil, chairman of the Democrat super PAC group Priorities USA, in which Cecil said “his group was closely monitoring Trump’s support with younger African Americans, which at the time was in the low 20% range, a relatively high figure for a GOP president. And to reach them, he said the party would need to do more than talk about issues like criminal justice reform.”
“I think one of the mistakes that we see a lot of times on the Democratic side is the minute that people start talking about black voters or voters of color, however you want to describe them, the conversation immediately goes to criminal justice reform,” Cecil said. “Which is an essential element but not a sufficient one.”