In only a few more days, voters all across the United States will find out on November 8th whether Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton or Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump will be their next president.
This has been an extremely contentious election cycle, and there has been a lot of talk coming from each candidate about what they plan to do for the African American community.
Considering the history of neglect, unequal treatment and broken promises the Black community has endured from each major political party, one of the biggest questions many in the community are asking is not about what will happen on November 8th, but rather, what will happen to change the current state of Black America the day after – on November 9th?
It has been nearly 8 years since the country elected Senator Barack Obama of Illinois to become the 44th president of the United States, as well as the first African American in the history of this country to be elected to the White House. More importantly, it is important to note that the Black vote not only helped catapult then-Senator Obama into office in 2008; it also helped get him re-elected for a second term in 2012.
According to the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University, 95 percent of African Americans voted for then-Senator Obama in 2008, and 93 percent of African Americans voted for President Obama’s re-election bid in 2012. These are strong, and difference making numbers considering the fact that then-Senator Obama only received 53 percent of the overall vote in 2008 and only 51 percent of the overall vote in 2012.
It is hard to argue that any political party would be salivating at the prospect of securing a specific voting bloc that would guarantee them at least 51 percent of votes each election, and a voting bloc that would be consistent, dedicated and loyal whenever they were called upon.
Such is the case of the Black vote; minus the salivation, of course.
The Black vote, by and large, has consistently been given to Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party for the last several decades, without the Black community ever receiving a real guarantee for the promises they made, or being in a strong collective position to truly hold Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party accountable for what they promised.
It is important to better understand the psyche of Black voters, in order to better understand the reasons the Black community continues to vote the way they do, and what they actually want.
With the election only days away, a new national poll by researchers in a joint National Newspaper Publishers Association – Howard University poll shows that Black American voters overwhelmingly plan to vote for Hillary Clinton as their choice for President of the United States. According to the National Black Voter Poll, their choice is influenced by concerns about high quality, affordable education, income inequality, jobs, the economy, race relations and racial justice.
The findings were based on a national random sample of more than 900 voters from 22,000 telephone calls made between the dates of October 21 to October 30, 2016, and is the first national-level scientific study done this election cycle that was focused exclusively on voters who identify as African American, Afro-Hispanic or other Black identity. The research was conducted using social science survey methods at Howard University. Research findings, however, do not necessarily reflect the personal views of the researchers, the faculty or administration of Howard University, or the members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Principal investigators on the interdisciplinary Howard research team included Dr. William Spriggs, Department of Economics; Dr. Terri Adams and Dr. Rubin Patterson, Department of Sociology and Criminology; Dr. Lorenzo Morris, Department of Political Science; and Dr. Carolyn Byerly, Department of Communication, Culture and Media Studies. Principal liaisons from the NNPA included President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, and Chairman of the Board, Denise Rolark Barnes. The goal of the research is to develop a profile of Black American voters, especially in an election year where race is believed to be a defining factor in the outcome of the presidential and congressional races.
The National Black Voter Poll found a high degree of engagement by registered Black voters in the election, with 96 percent of respondents saying they will cast ballots. The same number said their friends also intend to vote. Nearly all respondents in the survey said they voted in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. Taken together, the data predict a high voter turnout among Black American voters in the November 8, 2016 election, with a strong preference for Clinton over Trump. A substantial majority (89%) indicated they will vote for Clinton, and two-thirds (67%) said they strongly favor Clinton. Another 23 percent declared “moderate support” for her. A slightly higher percent (74%) said they have “overall favorable feelings” for Clinton, compared to 2 percent who said they had favorable feelings for Trump.
When asked “Do you think Donald Trump is a racist?” 84 percent responded, “Yes.”
The vast majority of respondents in the survey identified as Democrats. To the question “In general, do you think of yourself as Democrat, Republican, or something else?” 82 percent of respondents said “Democrat” and only 2% said Republican. Another 16 percent said they are either “Independent” or “Other” (9% and 7%, respectively). A large majority of respondents (87%) identified high quality education as an influence in their decisions, and a nearly equal percent (84%) pointed to concerns about college affordability as a factor.
Other concerns shaping decisions were the economy and jobs (85%), race relations and racial justice (84%), and income inequality (82%).
The sample of more than 900 registered Black voters was 70 percent female and 30 percent male, which is huge considering that out of the 96 percent who said they had voted in the previous two presidential elections and who plan to vote on November 8th, Black women will more lead the way again by potentially helping to elect the nation’s first female president, as they did by voting to elect the nation’s first Black president
But what happens after November 8th is the question?
After the Civil War and passage of the Emancipation Proclamation, freed slaves who had become loyal to the Republican Party because of President Abraham Lincoln, found themselves disenfranchised and forgotten over time.
History reminds us that it was the same Republican Party, who had gained the consistent and loyal support of Black people, that had chosen to attract disgruntled Southern ‘Dixiecrats’ into their party, who had become disgusted with the Democratic Party’s decision to address the concerns and needs of Black people, while also pushing legislation to eradicate and overturn the segregationist policies in the South. The Republican Party made it a point to sacrifice the consistent and loyal support of Black people, in exchange for embracing racist Southern ‘Dixiecrats’ and adopting a political strategy that would increase their political base, establish a solid new voting bloc and expand their influence in the South. As a direct result, Black people shifted from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, who capitalized on the opportunity to provide an alternative for a collective group of Black people, who had been taken for granted by a Republican Party that no longer considered them socially important or politically relevant.
Fast forward to the migration of Black people from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, and there are many who believe that the advocacy and attention that Blacks once received when they switched over to the Democratic Party has severely been redirected to many other demographics and special interest groups within the Democratic Party, causing Black people to fall to the bottom of the barrel when it comes to their overall interests and concerns.
The Republican Party has pretty much conceded the Black vote to the Democratic Party, with the exception of the recent pursuit of the Black vote displayed by Trump this election cycle.
The African American community deserves to be treated like a partner in a very serious long-term relationship, as opposed to some temporary fling that has no significant future. The African American community deserves more than to have political candidates whisper sweet nothings into the ears of Black people; making empty promises in order to get the Black vote, but once they “close the deal” and get the only thing they wanted, their vote, promises are not kept, and nothing happens until they need the Black vote again next time.
Prior to November 8th, and definitely come November 9th, the Black community must strongly consider whether all they want to do is use the power of their votes to simply get another candidate elected, or use the power of their collective vote to bring about the much needed changes that are needed, along with getting the necessary resources the Black community so desperately needs. Election Day is upon us, so the ball is in the court of Black people to show America and these elected officials what they demand from them on November 9th and beyond.