Democrats who wish to beat Trump but prefer Sanders to former Vice President Joe Biden, must ask themselves the following question: Can a campaign that rests primarily on class warfare and economic justice, one that largely relegates race to a concern simply encompassed by economic reform, attract enough black voters to prevail?
Recently, we conducted a national survey of the black community to answer this question. We found that if Democrats hope to mobilize the African American community, a Sanders-style message framing Trump as a threat to the poor and the working-class isn’t the best way to do it. If the goal is to maximize black turnout in 2020, a message emphasizing the threat that Trump poses to racial progress, according to our survey, is more effective.
Without question, the black community will, by and large, support whomever Democrats decide to run against Trump. The issue is turnout. After black turnout rates outpaced white turnout for the first time in history in 2012, they declined by 7 percentage points in 2016. However, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, if black voters in 2020 turn out at rates commensurate to 2012, the Democratic nominee can flip four key states away from Trump—Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—and, most likely, win the election.