Posted on February 16, 2022

As Black Voters Sour on Biden, Will They Abandon the Democrats?

Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal, February 15, 2022

“Why Joe Biden Is Bleeding Black Support” was the headline of a New York magazine article in late January. Not whether, but why. And if the polling since then is indicative, the hemorrhaging continues.


Joe Biden won 92% of black voters in 2020, no doubt benefiting from having been Mr. Obama’s vice president, but it’s been all downhill since then. The president’s job-approval rating among all voters has fallen, but among blacks it has been cratering. An NBC News poll last month found that black support for the president, which stood at 83% last April, had dropped to 64%. A Quinnipiac survey released around the same time showed a 22-point decline in black support for Mr. Biden during his first year in office. And a CNN poll from last week puts black approval of the president’s job performance at just 69%. Democrats know they can’t win elections without much higher levels of black support.

Mr. Biden has been doing what Democrats normally do to buck up black support. He’s resorting to identity politics. He’s promised to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. He supports legislation that would address imaginary voter suppression. He wants to expand the welfare state. If, as the recent polling suggests, this sort of racial pandering no longer works like it used to, America’s making some progress.


That black experience partly explains why minority support for Mr. Trump ticked up in 2020. It might also explain why blacks have soured on Mr. Biden. Inflation, which the current administration first denied and then played down, is at a 40-year high. {snip}

Mr. Biden’s efforts to appease his party’s progressive wing are also costing him black support. Black politicians and activists tend to be far more liberal than the average black voter. On issue after issue—school choice, defunding the police, voter ID, racial preferences—individual black Americans hold more conservative views than the elites who claim to represent them. The political scientists Ismail White and Chryl Laird argue in a 2020 book, “Steadfast Democrats,” that black partisan loyalty is less issue-based and has to do with social pressure from other blacks. But as the black middle class grows and black interests become less unified and more varied, the solidarity politics we see among black voters will inevitably start to wane, as it has with other racial and ethnic groups.