As Biden support dips, Dems launch effort to woo Black Pa. voters

Lt. Gov. Austin Davis said the difference between Trump and Biden is stark, calling the former president a “disaster for Black America.”

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Audience members at Biden's speech

People listen as President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Girard College, Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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A day after President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris appeared in Philadelphia to launch a national initiative to court Black voters, Pennsylvania Democrats announced a statewide component: Black Pennsylvanians for Biden.

Lt. Gov. Austin Davis and House Speaker Joanna McClinton, who will be chairing the effort, spoke to reporters, saying that President Joe Biden has done a lot for the Black community.

“President Biden has fought for Black Americans every single day of his presidency and really has a remarkable set of accomplishments,” Davis said. “Black wealth is up 60% since before the pandemic. Black small businesses are starting at the fastest rate in 30 years. Black unemployment is at a historic low.”

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The effort is part of a campaign coordinated across the swing states that are expected to decide the outcome of the Electoral College and, therefore, who will be elected president.

The increased outreach to Black voters is also indicative of how concerned Democrats are about voter apathy and dissonance among a demographic Democrats have historically taken for granted.

Black voters are usually reliable voters for Democrats. According to data compiled by Cornell University’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, the Democratic candidate for president in each presidential election since 2000 won between 87% and 95% of the Black vote, with Biden winning 87% in 2020. The Black vote was essential in Biden’s first primary win in South Carolina which catapulted him to the nomination and his eventual general election win.

This year, however, Biden appears to have lost support among some Black community members. Among Black adults, Biden’s approval has dropped from 94% when he started his term to just 55%, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll published in March. A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found Biden’s support among Black voters has dropped from 87% in 2020 to 74% now.

Likely seeing the same results, Trump is trying to make the case that he would make a better choice for Black Americans, even campaigning in The Bronx last week, where he tried to woo Black and Hispanic voters in the heavily Democratic borough. There, he argued that the president’s policies regarding immigration and the economy are negatively impacting them.

Austin said that the difference between the two candidates is stark.

“Donald Trump, who was a disaster for Black America, ran a racist campaign, implemented a racist agenda, and hurt black people at every turn,” he said. “Black unemployment skyrocketed and uninsured rates went up. Trump tried to repeal Obama’s signature achievement — and now is doubling down, working to terminate the Affordable Care Act. Trump’s botched COVID-19 response disproportionately left Black Americans dead and black-owned businesses shuttered and quite infamously Trump pushed to bring back stop and frisk.”

As part of the initiative, the campaign is holding organizing events in Pennsylvania and other swing states.

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Monique Bonney, who took her son to the launch with Biden and Harris, said that she hopes Black voters turn out in November.

“Everyone needs to vote,” she told WHYY News. “Regardless of how you feel about the process, it’s still very, very important that everybody’s voice is heard.”

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