NAACP, Vera Institute of Justice (Vera), and the African American Research Collaborative (AARC) released findings illustrating the vote choices and motivations of African American voters. The findings, which are based on data from the 2020 American Election Eve Poll completed by the African American Research Collaborative, Latino Decisions, and Asian American Decisions, set the record straight about Black Americans' commitment to the Democratic Party and its candidates, dispelling the recently circulated notion that Black voters — and Black men in particular — support Donald Trump or the GOP.
According to the poll, nearly nine out of ten African American voters supported Joe Biden. More than half of African American voters said the Coronavirus pandemic is the most important issue their community that politicians should address followed by discrimination and racial justice.
Opinion polling has consistently shown that mitigating the damage wrought by COVID-19 is the major issue of the 2020 election. This holds true regardless of race, but Black Americans continue to be disproportionately harmed by the pandemic, which influenced how and why they voted. In addition to it being a major issue, the pandemic is the lens through which voters understand and make sense of other important issues, such as health care, the economy, racial justice, and police brutality.
"The NAACP has spent the past 100 years mobilizing black people across the country to get out the vote," said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. "But this movement started long before: throughout the history of the United States, Black people have always led the charge to make this country live up to its ideals of fairness and equality. We have seen that in this poll and will continue to witness the trajectory of this country change for the better with the support of Black Americans."
The poll proves that people of color, and Black Americans in particular, are a critical voting bloc that is often overlooked. The current conversation about young voters changing America is incomplete without emphasizing the fact the change is being driven by young voters of color. The data clearly shows young white voters are not particularly more progressive than older white voters. White Americans under age 40 vote for Trump at 55 percent — two points higher than whites older than 60. More than eight out of ten young Black Americans voted for Biden, which suggests their strong support for and commitment to ensuring the country delivers better health coverage, equitable economic opportunity, and comprehensive criminal justice reform.
"Sixty-one percent of Black voters indicated that they or someone they know has been unfairly stopped or harassed by the police," said Nick Turner, President of Vera. "Black voters are overwhelmingly concerned about systemic racism, especially as it relates to the criminal legal system. We support shifting funds from policing to community and family support and we want to reduce incarceration — including immigrant detention. Regardless of the final election outcome, criminal justice reform should be a priority for the president and Congress."
More than eight out of ten Black voters expressed support for reducing the number of people in jails and prisons, and allowing people who are incarcerated to use Pell Grants to advance their education and training. An overwhelming majority of Black voters made it clear that police need to be held accountable for brutality and abuse, and expressed support for policy change and reform, including banning chokeholds and strangleholds.
Biden's support among Black voters was not a given, which was evidenced by the results of the early primaries. The strong support of Biden among Black voters is the result of a strategic consolidation of the Black voting bloc and Biden's efforts to engage the Black community.
"People of color turned out overwhelmingly for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and white people turned out in a big way for Donald Trump. If Joe Biden wins, it means that a coalition led by people of color is now the dominant political reality in the US," said Henry Fernandez, principal at AARC. "Most decisions Trump made as President and in his campaign were about stopping this transition to a country that is no longer dominated politically by white voters. He's trying to turn back this sea change in American politics — a progressive sea change that has led to better health coverage, a focus on police reform, and a House of Representatives that has fought Trump for the last two years."
The poll of more than 15,000 Americans who voted included 4,100 African American respondents from key battleground states, including Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin, as well as a national sample. The full array of data can be viewed on the 2020 American Election Eve Poll website. The 2020 American Election Eve Poll Presentation Webinar is available on the NAACP Facebook page.