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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: Are Dems Losing Edge With Black Working Class?

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

On the Reliability of Black Support for Democrats

I am not so sure that support is as reliable as most Democrats assume. I see signs of erosion, particularly among black working class voters. I discuss and analyze the relevant data in my new post at The Liberal Patriot.

“It has been widely noted that the Hispanic vote was relatively poor for the Democrats in 2020. But that wasn’t the Democrats’ only disappointment among nonwhite voters. Democratic margins among black voters also declined by 7 points, though not by nearly as much as among Hispanics (16 points, Catalist two party vote). Moreover, while absolute turnout for black voters was up, as it was for almost all groups in a very high turnout election, turnout did not go up as much for black voters as for other groups, so relative turnout fell…..

This is a bit of a puzzle. Trump was widely and correctly viewed as a racist, a perception that was turbocharged by the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. And the Democratic party and Biden were certainly all in on BLM, so you could hardly ask for an election where the profile of the racial justice issue was any higher. And yet….the expected surge in black support and turnout for Democrats failed to appear.

One possibility is that Democrats overestimated the salience of the racial justice issue, perhaps especially as it unfolded around the BLM movement. Black voters, particularly working class voters, do after all have other concerns rooted in material, kitchen-table concerns….

[B]lack voters are not a monolith and cannot be assumed to belong to the Democrats simply on the basis of racial justice advocacy and rhetoric. In the end, the loyalty of black voters depends crucially on the ability of the Democrats to provide material improvements in their lives, particularly for those in working class and poor communities.

This helps explain why the black shift toward Trump in 2020 wound up being heavily concentrated among black working class (noncollege) voters. A forthcoming States of Change detailed re-analysis of 2020 election data not only shows this pattern nationally but also indicates that black margin shifts toward Trump in key states from Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to Florida, Georgia and Nevada were driven entirely or overwhelmingly by black working class voters.

Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot!

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