To be fair, Joe Biden wouldn’t be the first Democratic presidential candidate to fumble this demographic. But also to be fair, Biden’s not doing a lot to grab it, either. The outcome of the 2016 election hinged on turnout, and Hillary Clinton failed to excite the same voters who turned out for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Losing hundreds of thousands of votes in the “blue wall” states cost Clinton and the Democrats the election, and a significant portion of the votes left on the table in 2016 were African-American.
This time around, the combined Trump/RNC campaign has put a lot more resources into GOTV efforts and at least some level of outreach to black voters. Even apart from that, though, Democrats have begun to worry about a repeat of 2016 in more ways than one, Politico reports:
In response, Democrats have urged African Americans to channel their frustrations into voting. But for younger black voters, many of whom are protesting in dozens of American cities, that requires trust in a system that they believe has done little for them or their families. Joe Biden is struggling to connect with young voters, particularly those of color, according to public and private polling — a serious problem for the former vice president that started during the presidential primary.
This week’s demonstrations are an inflection point for the Democratic Party that could engage these voters or further alienate them from the political process, according to more than a dozen Democratic pollsters, strategists, organizers and lawmakers. The difference-maker for Democrats in November, they said, isn’t whether President Donald Trump will peel off a small proportion of black men as he’s trying to do — but whether Biden can persuade young black voters in battleground states not to sit out the election.
“This is a moment where people are disillusioned in institutions,” said Branden Snyder, executive director of Detroit Action, a grassroots organization that works to mobilize black and brown voters from economically marginalized communities. “I’m worried that a lot of our first-time voters, and a lot of them are young voters, are going … to completely opt out of the system.”