of 2016 Black Voter Participation in the Presidential Election
than one-third (36%) of blacks who voted for
Obama in 2012 did not vote in the 2016 election.
voter turnout declined by 8% between 2012 and 2016 (1.6
million stayed home).
Clinton received 88% of the Black vote
in 2016 as compared to Obama’s
96% in 2008 and 93% in 2012 (with a higher
turnout). Her percentage was in the range of Al
Gore (90%) and John Kerry (88%) who
lost their presidential elections in 2000 and 2004, respectively,
also with a lower African American turnout.
turnout increased to 65.3%
for non-Hispanic whites, but decreased to 59.6%
for non-Hispanic blacks in the 2016 presidential election.
(Excepting the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, black voter
turnout has trailed that of whites by more than 5%.)
voters were targeted for suppression
by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 voting rights decision,
Shelby County (AL) v. Holder, and Russian
trolls on the Internet in 2016.
Buttigieg, Bernie (Sanders), and all the other white guys seemingly
have a tin ear as to how to woo African American voters for the 2020
primaries. As current polls reflect (which mean little at this point
other than for candidates’ fundraising), Joe Biden is far ahead
of his rivals in his purported share of the black vote, as was
Hillary Clinton during a similar time period in 2007. She had
attained that status based on the immense popularity of her husband,
former President Bill Clinton. Biden retains this advantage based on
having been Vice President for the nation’s first black
President, Barack Obama, for eight years.
aforementioned white males, and their female counterparts, are
largely relying on the historical fact that the overwhelming majority
of black voters, who actually go out to cast a ballot, will reliably
vote for Democratic candidates as a matter of practice no matter the
level of outreach to them. Blacks vote for Democrats 85 to 96
percent of the time. However, black voters’ turnout has ebbed
and flowed and has hovered below 60 percent for more than half a
calculating the black voter participation, the percentages rather
than the turnout are usually the focus. African Americans were
critical to the close elections of Presidents’ Harry Truman,
John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton, and they also pushed
Barack Obama over the 50 percent threshold twice, while allowing Bill
Clinton to win two terms without getting 50 percent of the total vote
Obama remains the only Democratic candidate to have invested millions
of dollars in get-out-the-vote (GOTV) initiatives targeted at blacks
as well as whites on a consistent basis, and to have pushed black
turnout comfortably above 60 percent of registered black voters in
both his elections. In addition, he also consistently ASKED them
personally, and through his surrogates, for their votes.
Carter (1980), Walter Mondale (1984), Michael Dukakis (1988), Al Gore
(2000), John Kerry (2004), and Hillary Clinton (2016) relied on
traditional black political operatives who delivered the customary
black percentages but not an increase in African American voter
turnout. Their black staff members and consultants organized African
American clergy leaders, had their candidates speak at their
churches, and make presentations to black local and national
organizations. Obama remains the outlier in meeting and touching the
black masses. He respected and embraced them at every level and at
all the times.
Bernie, and Buttigieg have renounced identity politics very publicly.
Moreover, Biden has refused to endorse the creation of a commission
to study reparations for African Americans, and he declined to
apologize for sanctioning the horrible mistreatment of Atty. Anita
Hill during the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings. Biden has also been
steadfast in his support of the 1994 Crime Bill which significantly
contributed to the mass incarceration of males of color and of
females of color more recently. He disagrees with Atty. Michelle
Alexander’s findings in her highly praised book, The New Jim
Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010) that
carefully documented this reality.
is convinced that by continuously highlighting his ties to Obama, he
will be able to garner the lion’s share of the African American
vote and not address their concerns in education, criminal justice,
health care, or on any other issues, essentially the same attitude
shown by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Biden believes that blacks’
intense dislike of Trump leaves them no place to go.
to the center, he is focused like a laser beam on Trump voters whom
he feels he can bring back into the Democratic fold in Michigan,
Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin and thus win the 2020 presidential
election after waltzing through the Democratic presidential primary.
Like his failed Democratic predecessors, Biden is less likely to win
the primary as a result of this arrogance.
does not recognize how strongly blacks feel about the previously
noted issues and that due to their annoyance with his dismissal of
them, many will migrate to other candidates—e.g., Sens. Kamala
Harris and Elizabeth Warren--who are gaining traction among black
voters. Sen. Cory Booker, a favorite of the elite, is being waylaid
by his earlier negative attacks on public education and the emerging
and factual view that he is a stalking horse for the right-wing
corporate Cartel of education reformers who are making millions off
the marketing of corporate charter and voucher schools and other
forms of public school privatization to minority parents.
Democrats are failing to tactically and strategically address are the
following challenges: escalating voter suppression via political
gerrymandering and Voter ID initiatives, the Republican focus on
uniting their base and refining their voter turnout methods, and
Trump’s development and exploitation of anti-immigrant and
anti-minority sentiments. Democrats are na´ve in their lack of
understanding that Republicans are systematically moving the nation
toward economic, political, and judicial Apartheid in plain sight.
the latter, Trump has nominated more than 150 right-wing federal
judges. The U.S. Senate has confirmed two for the Supreme Court,
more than 40 for the U.S. Appeals Courts, and more than 60 for U.S.
federal district courts. What is even more disturbing is that,
during their confirmation hearings, several declined to endorse Brown
v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade as being rightly
decided and settled laws. Republicans are transforming our social,
economic, and judicial systems as we know them.
must win in 2020 at all levels of government to arrest this move
toward white Apartheid as our nation is on the track to become
racially pluralistic with no one racial group holding majority status
before 2040. Next week, we delve into other barriers to Democrats
harvesting enough of the 2020 black vote to win the 2020 presidential