Biden Losing Ground Among Black Voters in Key States

By Adeline Von Drehle
Published On: Last updated 06/18/2024, 12:38 AM EDT

A recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll conducted in two swing states shows President Joe Biden has lost ground among black voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania. The results mirror a nationwide trend in which black voters are increasingly withdrawing support from Biden – though few of them are going all-in for his competitor, former President Donald Trump. Trump leads Biden by 0.8 points in the national RCP Average

Of the 500 black voters surveyed in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, 76% in each state said they voted for Biden in 2020. Now, his support has fallen 20 points in Pennsylvania (to 56%) and 22 points in Michigan (to 54%). Trump is up 2.3 points in the Pennsylvania RCP Average and up 0.3 points in the Michigan RCP Average.   

One silver lining for Biden is that few of his 2020 supporters have jumped ship to the Trump camp. The Suffolk poll shows Trump has 15% support among black voters in Michigan compared to 11% in Pennsylvania. These percentages are only marginally higher than Trump’s 2020 numbers; he is up 6 points in Michigan and 3 points in Pennsylvania from four years ago.

Trump’s support among black voters has seen more significant growth nationally. CNN reported on Monday that in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, Biden was polling with an overwhelming 86% of support among black voters while Trump straggled with a mere 7% support in this group. Now, less than five months from the 2024 presidential election, Biden has shown a 16-point drop in support to 70%, while Trump has seen a 14-point gain and is now boasting 21% of the black vote.

Both candidates are scrambling to get African Americans on their side. Last week, Biden hosted a Juneteenth concert to celebrate the anniversary of the official abolition of slavery in the United States. Biden signed a law in 2021 that made June 19 a federal holiday, and honored the historical day in 2024 by inviting several prominent black voices to the south lawn of the White House.

Earlier this spring, Biden gave the commencement address at Morehouse College, a historically black university, and spoke of the ills facing the black community. Events like these are commonplace on the Biden campaign schedule as the president hopes to hold onto this key, historically left-leaning, demographic.

Trump, for his part, continues to play up the “judicial corruption” angle: Trump speaks of how blacks identify with him because they share in their experience as victims of a corrupt American judicial system. Trump was recently found guilty on 34 counts of falsification of business records in the first degree. African Americans make up almost half of state prison populations but only 13% of the U.S. population, a statistic that highlights the perception that black people are disproportionately targeted by America’s criminal justice system.

Trump also continues to address topics such as inflation, immigration, and crime – issues that are of high importance to black voters. Trump promised new approaches toward these issues during a roundtable discussion in Detroit on Saturday. The event was held at 180 Church, a nondenominational congregation on Detroit’s west side.

The church’s senior pastor said he was humbled by Trump’s visit, reported the Detroit Free Press. “President Obama never visited the ‘hood,’” Lorenzo Sewell said. “President Biden came to the big NAACP dinner, but he never came to the hood.”

The Biden campaign called Trump’s visit in Detroit a “political stunt.” The campaign quoted James Perkins, pastor of Detroit’s Greater Christ Baptist Church, as saying “Donald Trump has the nerve to waltz into our city and act like he wants to understand the struggles Black Detroiters face, but the reality is he doesn’t care.”

Pundits are not predicting that Trump will win the support of black voters outright – Biden still leads Trump by a 50-point margin, according to the CNN analysis. But in a race as tight as the Biden-Trump rematch, any “stunts” responsible for double-digit shifts in support are something to keep an eye on.

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