Recently, I described how the Democratic establishment has alienated much of the Party’s liberal Democratic base, and, in passing, mentioned two other groups that have been crapped on as well:
Oddly enough, both labor Democrats and black Democratic women are also getting pissed off. Go figure. (and, of course, these three groups overlap–intersect, if you will…).
Well, a recent Working America interview-based study, “Does My Vote Matter?“, talked to African-Americans in Ohio, both voters and non-voters, and some of the findings might surprise the denizens of woke Twitter (boldface mine):
There was a profound disconnect — especially on economic issues — between working-class African-American voters and the Democratic Party.
•48 percent of black voters surveyed think it makes no difference for them economically whether Democrats or Republicans are in office.
•Disappointment with the candidates was also a factor: 46 percent of black voters, both those who cast ballots in 2016 and those who did not, believe voters’ dislike for both Donald Trump and Clinton was the primary reason for the decline in voter turnout.
…The sharp decline in African-American voter turnout in Ohio was a critical factor in Clinton’s defeat. Statewide, African-American turnout plummeted nearly 10 percentage points, falling from 71.7 percent in 2012 to 61.8 percent in 2016.
Why did so many black voters, the core of the Democratic base, stay home? In our interviews with working-class African-American voters, we found that many of them are feeling economically stressed and losing hope that the political system can improve their lives.
1.A. Black Voters Are Demoralized About the Economy, Politics and Democrats
The conversations we had with working-class African-American voters in central Ohio are a wake-up call for Democrats. Nearly a decade after the 2008 recession, many black voters say they’re still struggling economically. Only 19.6 percent say their economic situation has improved over the last 10 years — and that number is lower still, 16.1 percent, for people who didn’t cast a ballot in 2016.
The voters we talked with identified jobs and the economy as their No. 1 issue. Troublingly for Democrats, 48 percent of African-American voters surveyed say it makes no difference to their economic well-being if Democrats or Republicans are in power. African-Americans who didn’t vote in 2016 are even more despairing, with 66.4 percent saying they’re no better off under either party. Our canvassers talked with one voter after another who was struggling to make ends meet and didn’t see politicians from either party addressing their problems…
The black voters we talked with are worried about their personal economic future: 49.3 percent of black voters say they are somewhat or very concerned about their personal economic future; just 33.2 percent say they are somewhat or very confident about their future economic prospects.
This level of economic anxiety is even starker than that among white voters of the same income level. White swing voters in central Ohio with household incomes under $50,000 a year are less concerned and more confident:
•44.9 percent of lower-income white swing voters are concerned about their personal economic future, 4.4 points below the concern level of black voters of all income levels.
•43.6 percent of these white voters are confident about their personal future, 10.4 points more confident than black respondents.
…The picture that emerges is one of African-American voters who are personally, and as a community, more economically vulnerable and isolated from economic opportunity. The greater anxiety of black voters is an indication of the severity of the economic stresses faced — and the urgency progressives should feel about addressing their concerns.
And then the respondents went Full Metal Dirtbag Left:
1.B. To Explain Voter Turnout Decline, Black Voters Focus Much Less on Obama’s Absence Than on Failings of Trump and Clinton
We asked our survey participants for their thoughts on the drop in voter turnout in 2016. Only 8.3 percent thought the decreased turnout was due to President Obama not being on the ballot; 45.9 percent believed the primary reason turnout fell was a dislike of both Trump and Clinton. This sentiment was slightly stronger (49.3 percent) among those who did not vote in 2016.
Although our survey showed black voters overwhelmingly dislike Trump, they also had criticism of Clinton and the Democrats. Even people who liked and voted for Clinton said there were flaws with the candidate and her campaign
James, 53, a Clinton voter from Columbus’ Easthaven neighborhood, believed Clinton would have been a great president, but he admitted, “The air goes right out of the room when she steps up to the mic.” James said, “You have to motivate black people and young people,” but she and Trump “didn’t give [them] anything to vote for.”
Our respondents’ second most common theory on why voter turnout dipped (13.7 percent chose it) was that black voters felt their vote didn’t matter.
Anthony, 47, a non-voter living near downtown Columbus, said voting is useless. “[Politicians] don’t care what we say or what we do. They’re gonna do what they want anyway. We got cops killing people every day. When we have the protests, they don’t listen.”
Anthony stated his case more forcefully than most respondents, but many others shared his sense that voting in America makes no difference.
Also, Ohioan black voters, while more politically active than white swing Clinton voters, don’t seem tied into the #Resistance. Shocking, I know. Here’s what Working America proposes:
3.A. Politicians Need to Address African-American Concerns – and the Economy Is Their Primary Issue
Progressive politicians need to speak to the concerns of African-American voters — and jobs and the economy is by far their No. 1 issue; 32.5 percent of black voters selected it as their primary concern. Health care ranked second at 23.4 percent, and together public safety and police accountability garnered 13.2 percent of responses.
We heard repeatedly from voters who fear they’re stuck in an economy where it’s impossible to make progress….
African-American voters are deeply frustrated with the state of the economy and they’re losing faith in politicians who fail to fix it. Many voters we talked with say politicians rarely visit their communities and don’t advocate for them…
3.B. With Face-to-Face Contact, Even Infrequent Voters Pledge to Vote in 2018
As part of our door-to-door outreach, we asked each voter to sign a pledge committing to vote next year. Although just 57.9 percent of the voters we surveyed cast a ballot in 2016, 66.9 percent of them signed cards pledging to vote in 2018. A voter pledge is not a vote, but as part of an early and robust outreach program, it’s an important tool for increasing turnout.
It’s almost like to be politically successful you have to build a movement that engages people or something. And maybe one that also addresses their day-to-day needs, including job creation (maybe worrying about the Terrifying Specter of Three Percent Inflation isn’t a winning strategy?). Crazy talk, I know…
To this D.C. native, who remembers when D.C. was affectionately referred to as Chocolate City due to its majority black population, these results aren’t surprising. For decades in D.C., the predominantly black wards have called for direct government action to improve jobs, wages, healthcare, housing, and education. For some reason (I’ll leave this as a homework exercise for readers), starting around 2015, the crazy idea that liberal economic policy is a white thing, and opposed to the interests of minority voters, was promulgated in the Democratic Party. Well, I learned much of my economic liberalism from listening to black people in D.C. (for decades). Maybe it’s time the Democratic establishment starts doing really listening to black people too.
An aside: I’ll have a post up sometime next week about how the Democratic establishment pissed off labor Democrats too.