Road to the White House Paved by Blacks

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden joined by Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at the The Queen theater Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

It’s official, Black voters rebuilt the blue wall that President Donald Trump penetrated in 2016, delivering the White House—also built by Blacks—to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Black voters turned out for Joe Biden in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin—states that Hillary Clinton narrowly lost to Trump in 2016.

And the irony is that Black voters might very well be the same voting bloc to begin tearing down the red wall in the South—if Biden can hang on to his mounting lead in Georgia. 

At press time, Biden was on his way to winning the 2020 presidential election, leading races in Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

As the nation watched the agonizingly slow count of the votes since polls closed on November 3, they saw the tide slowly but deliberately turn to Biden, as votes accumulated for the Democrats in cities with massive Black populations, like Detroit, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Atlanta, Georgia. Even with insistent attempts to suppress and frustrate Black voters, they prevailed—waiting to vote over 10 hours in some instances, and ignoring the postal service to take their ballots directly to respective electoral offices.

Although not finalized, it has been estimated that the Black vote averaged 83 percent nationwide.

Biden’s path to the White House began back in February this year when Black voters in South Carolina, buoyed by Congressman Jim Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden, spawned his eventual nomination as the Democratic Party presidential nominee.

While the turnout of Black voters was strong and instrumental in President Barack Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012, this paled in the significance of the Black vote in the 2020 presidential election.

Georgia, for example, has not voted in a Democratic president since 1992, but the strong turnout of Black voters in Georgia’s urban areas turned the state blue, with the help of Black political organizers like Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost Georgia’s governor’s race in 2018. 

In Michigan and Pennsylvania, the Trump/Pence campaign spent millions of dollars and held several major, crowded rallies in a desperate attempt to win these states but, again, it was the resilience of Black voters in the more heavily populated areas of these states that cost them victory.

Biden’s victory justifies him selecting African American Kamala Harris, daughter of a Jamaican father, and an Indian mother, as his running mate. Her presence on the ticket, played a role in further mobilizing the Black vote, especially in Broward County where a record 82 percent of Black voters, including a significant number of Caribbean Americans, turned out.

The strength of the Black vote enforces what has been apparent in several election cycles—the Black vote can never again be taken for granted. Black voters are soundly one of America’s most crucial voting blocs. The incoming Biden administration must bear this in mind as they implement policies over the next four years.  As a TV commentator said on Thursday night as Pennsylvania votes turned toward Biden, “Biden cannot forget the debt he owes to Black voters. They got him elected.”

While the national polls suggestion of a Biden landslide in the presidential election didn’t materialize, the prediction of a high voter turnout across the country proved correct. It’s estimated some 163 million voters voted nationally, the highest voter turnout among eligible U.S. citizens since 1900.

Biden has also received more votes than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history. With votes still being counted, it’s estimated he has received 73,619,279 votes (50.47 percent), compared to Donald Trump with 69,843,374 (47.88 percent) making Biden the winner of the popular vote by 2.6 percent.

Disappointment in Florida 

The Biden/Harris ticket lost Florida despite the record number of Democratic Black voters compared to past elections, with sharp increases in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The turnout of the Black vote faltered in Miami-Dade County amounting to 59.1 percent compared to a high 72 percent by Hispanic Americans, strengthened by the influx of Venezuelan immigrants, and the hardcore support for the Republican Party among Cuban Americans.

In the days leading to the election, several Democratic officials in Miami-Dade including Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson, who was re-elected to another term in Congress, urged the Biden/Harris campaign to place more focus on the groundwork among Black voters in Miami-Dade. The calls may have come too late, as the disappointing turnout among Black voters in the county indicated.

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