Let’s Talk About Joe Biden’s Wake Up Call With Black Voters Leading Up To The 1st 2024 Presidential Debate

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Black Voters May Give Biden A Wake Up Call

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Welp, it’s here. The first presidential debate between incumbent President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump is set to begin at 9 p.m. ET tonight at CNN’s studio in Atlanta, Georgia —Atlanta being the city that was largely responsible for delivering Biden his upset victory in the state of Georgia in 2020. But four years ago is four years ago and, today, it’s a different race under different conditions, so now the question is: Can Biden pull another hat trick in Georgia? Well, one thing that is key in regard to Biden’s potential to land another victory is whether or not Black voters in the Peach State will, once again, turn out in record numbers to vote for him—and that’s where things start to look a little bleak for the octogenarian incumbent.

First, let’s take a look at the sociopolitical conditions that helped Biden out the first time around.

From the BBC:

Before 2020, a Democratic candidate for president hadn’t been elected in Georgia since 1992.

But a confluence of unique events helped push Joe Biden over the line, including record voter turnout from the state’s growing population of young, black and Latino voters.

In 2020, a deadly pandemic had engulfed the globe and shut down much of daily life. The election also came amid a nationwide racial reckoning following widespread protests over the police killings of George Floyd and other black Americans — an issue Mr Biden vowed to tackle on the campaign trail.

Two months after Mr Biden’s win, the state elected two Democrats, including its first black senator, Raphael Warnock, to the US Senate, in runoff elections. The upset victories flipped the state’s two seats from red to blue and handed control of the upper chamber to Democrats.

We also have to factor in Stacey Abrams, who founded the New Georgia Project and Fair Fight, both grassroots organizations that worked at galvanizing Black voters and Democratic voters for a decade and went into overdrive in their efforts leading up to the 2020 race.

“2020 was a different beast,” said Kendra Cotton, executive director of the New Georgia Project. “When you talk about getting people out, it was like a perfect storm.”

But now, Black people have been voicing their disillusionment with Biden and questioning his efforts to do anything at all for Black Americans.

“[Biden] hasn’t done anything on police reform,” said Jimmy Hill, whose son, Jimmy Atchison, was killed by police. “The conversation has gone out the back door.”

Now, to be fair, it’s the Republican party that actively fights every police reform bill put before Congress. For example, in 2020, House Democrats passed a comprehensive police reform bill that, among other things, would have restricted no-knock warrants and the use of chokeholds by police officers, and it would have created a national Police Misconduct Registry. (You might remember the moment when tone-deaf Democratic lawmakers thought it appropriate to celebrate the passing of the House Bill by kneeling in kente cloth for a photo, which, honestly, did more to draw attention away from the passing of the bill than it did to highlight it—because, seriously, WTF?).

We’ll never know how effective that bill might have been in reducing racial profiling and systemic racism in policing because it never made it past the Republican-controlled Senate as GOP legislators have made it known that they are all about “Blue Lives Matter” and “Back the Blue.” (These are things that haven’t changed in the last four years, with the exception of backing the blue as it applies to the police at the U.S. Capitol, apparently.)

Still, Hill isn’t wrong to note that in the years Biden has been in office, police reform efforts haven’t appeared to be any kind of a priority for his administration or the Democratic platform in general, and Biden probably didn’t do himself any favors when he pushed a “fund the police” message during a speech in 2022. He was also criticized by Black people for his negligence in addressing the issues we care about during his State of the Union address.

Biden’s lack of police reform policy is, honestly, the least of his issues going into Thursday night’s debate. Republicans have been pretty diligent at hammering his administration over the border crisis, and people of all demographics have been on his neck over the economy and his handling of the Israel-Gaza war.

More from BBC:

But many of the dynamics that motivated black and Latino voters and powered Mr Biden’s win have disappeared. And some organisers worry new challenges – from inflation to the Israel-Gaza war – are causing Mr Biden’s grip on the consequential voting bloc to slip.

“People are concerned about the cost of living. The rising housing costs. The lack of affordability,” Ms Cotton said.

The fallout from the Israel-Gaza war is “something that’s weighing on the hearts and minds of voters we reach out to,” she added. “Voters are not enthusiastic about their choices.”

It’s also worth mentioning something that’s been noted about the debate by the Congressional Black Caucus. There’s an incredible lack of Black media access, which could have a negative effect on either candidate’s ability to get their message out to Black voters.

Trump certainly has an uphill battle to fight if he hopes to bring a significant number of Black voters to the MAGA world while Biden’s task will be maintaining the Black voter support Democrats have historically counted on, which many argue appears to be dwindling.

Guess we’ll just have to see how things shake out after tonight’s debate. Buckle up for the ride, good people!

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