With the 2022 mid-terms coming up the the most talked about plan is voter turnout. African American voters have often carried a disproportionate weight in determining the outcome of close elections over the past few decades. Despite progress, they also remain considerably underrepresented in the highest offices in the land, which makes political representation for Black voters more indispensable than ever.
Here are some key facts that can help us understand the Black electorate beyond the popular conceptions and the occasional myths:-
1) The Proportion of Black Voters Has Remained the Same
It might be surprising to hear, but the percentage of eligible (not actual) Black voters has closely mirrored their share of population for decades. Between 2020 to 2022, the number of Black eligible voters (EVs) grew around 1.8%, much lower than the rapid increase of 2.4% for the Asian and 6.9% for the Hispanic communities. As a result, the proportion of Black EVs to the broader enfranchised population has remained almost stagnant during the same time, although their number has grown steadily from around 23 million people in 2000 to an estimated 32.7 million in November 2022.
2) Black Voters Remain Vigilant Despite Restrictions
It is a long-term trend thoroughly confirmed by data that the Black EVs in the United States are much more politically active than other minority communities. Hence, the turnout rate in 2020 among Black voters was much higher (63%) compared to their Hispanic peers (54%), although both percentages remained much lower than the average for White individuals (71%).
The phenomenon of trying to suppress Black voters is not new. From 2010 to 2018, nearly half of all states enacted voter suppression laws aimed primarily at African American communities, and the situation has gotten much worse in the last two years. Despite these efforts, Black voters are expected to stay motivated and retain their high turnout rate in the upcoming midterm elections.
3) Black Voters Are Unusually Concentrated
In contrast to White and even Hispanic communities, Black voters are highly concentrated in a few key regions across the country due to historical demographic patterns. More than half (57%) of Black EVs in 2022 will reside in the South, compared to only 16%-17% in Midwest and Northeast and only 10% in the Western states. As a result, Black voters formed a lower proportion of eligible voters (compared to their nationwide population share) in some battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, but a much higher percentage in Georgia and North Carolina, among other states.
Interestingly, the highest concentration of Black EVs is actually in Washington, D.C., where nearly half (46%) of all eligible voters self-identify as African American.
4) Black Voters Are Overwhelmingly Moderate or Conservative
In contrast to the popular perception in national media, by far the highest percentage of Black voters support the Democratic Party simply out of electoral pragmatism. Compared to White voters, Black people are as or more likely to support status quo policy positions in nearly all surveys to date. In fact, less than 30% of Black Democrats consider themselves liberal, compared to over 70% who identify as moderate or conservative.
For most Black voters, simple representation is not enough to guarantee their votes. In fact, there have been some – albeit rare – instances of backlash against Democratic candidates perceived as radicals among Black voters.