As the 2024 presidential election looms ever closer, the Democratic Party is facing a critical challenge: A growing dissatisfaction among younger black voters with President Joe Biden. This sentiment could have far-reaching implications for the electoral landscape, particularly in battleground states and cities essential to Democratic victory.
An Unsettling Gap in Turnout
In the 2022 midterms, despite projections that hinted at a stronger performance, Democrats found it challenging to mobilize their black voter base in pivotal cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Detroit. The resulting 11-point turnout gap between white and black voters was a historical high in recent decades. Despite recognizing this concerning pattern, the Democratic Party and Biden administration seem to have made little headway in rectifying the situation.
Waning Approval Ratings
Biden’s approval ratings among black voters have suffered a significant decline since he took office. While he led Donald Trump 74-19 among black voters according to recent polls, this is a steep drop from his 2020 margin of 90-9. What’s even more concerning for Democrats is the sharp contrast between younger and older black Americans. Only 58% of black Americans aged 18-49 approve of Biden’s performance, as opposed to nearly 80% among those 50 and older.
An Unconvincing Economic Message
Efforts by Biden to improve these numbers, including recent visits to key battleground cities like Philadelphia and Milwaukee to promote “Bidenomics,” appear to have fallen flat. A mere 36% of younger black Americans feel that Biden has achieved something “good” or “great” in his tenure.
A Crisis of Identification
A shift in party identification is another trend that Democrats can’t afford to ignore. Increasingly, young black voters are identifying as independents rather than Democrats. While Republican identification isn’t surging, the waning enthusiasm for the Democratic Party among this key demographic poses a real threat.
The Nomination Conundrum
Only 21% of black voters aged 18-49 favor Biden as the Democratic nominee for the next election, in stark contrast to the majority sentiment among older black voters. While history suggests that these younger voters are likely to “hold their nose and vote blue,” the lack of enthusiasm could significantly impact voter turnout.
Beyond Biden: A Party-Wide Problem, Not Just Black
It would be a mistake for Democrats to attribute this decline solely to Biden’s age or personality. The issue seems to be more deeply rooted in the party’s messaging and actions—or lack thereof. Over a third of young black Americans believe that the Democratic Party looks down on them, and only 60% think the party genuinely represents the working class—a decline of 20 points compared to older black Americans.
A Race Against Time
The Democratic Party must act swiftly to address these issues, especially with the potential of a competitive 2024 election on the horizon. Their reliance on huge urban margins for victory could be their downfall if they can’t engage and excite young black voters.
Despite the polls’ limitations, they consistently indicate one thing: Biden, and by extension, the Democratic Party, have a considerable amount of work to do to rekindle the enthusiasm and support among their core constituencies. With the 2024 elections drawing nearer, time is running out to make meaningful changes.