Whose “Black Vote” Is It Anyway?

Plus a Cory in the House pipe dream!

This was the week that a 9/11 conspiracy theorist qualified for the November debate, Andrew Yang got some coverage, and everyone kept fighting for the elusive “black vote.”

I’m Chris Erik Thomas. Welcome to Issue 28 of Rubber Chicken Circuit, the weekly election newsletter from Study Hall. PS: If you like this newsletter, hit the HEART button above. It helps us reach more readers.

[due to a technical Substack error, we’ve had to send out the email twice today, sorry!]

The Big Idea

OK Boomer, It’s Time to Talk About the New “Black Vote.”

Just like Meghan McCain’s incessant references to her father, pay any amount of attention to JOE BIDEN on the campaign trail and you’re sure to hear about Obama. He spent eight years as President Obama’s VP and, in spite of shaky policy history and constant gaffes on racial issues, that connection to Obama has helped him maintain a dominant lead with black voters. But what is the “black vote” anyway? And is his lead really that insurmountable?  These questions seem to have become the focal point of the week in the 2020 Election News Cyclone of Doom but, as the Oprah meme famously says: what is the truth???

The reality is that yes, Biden is still winning over “black voters” but grouping all voters of color into one category is disingenuous. He’s really only has a commanding lead with older black voters; other polls have shown a competitive race among the “core four” frontrunners for this key voting block. BERNIE SANDERS won a majority of support from young black women (18.9%) in a September poll by Essence and continues to work on outreach to young progressive black voters and activists. ELIZABETH WARREN is slowly inching up with black voters but still trails behind Sanders. And then there’s PETE BUTTIGIEG, who sometimes gets breathlessly compared to Obama but then other times has to deal with the racial divide he hasn’t done much to help heal as South Bend, Indiana’s mayor.

All of this adds up to one thing: it’s anyone’s game. Even if Biden’s support from older black voters seems ironclad, I don’t see older voters being the dominant power brokers they once were. Yes, their rates of voting have historically been much higher than young people but in the 2020 election, one voting block is going to shake up everything. On November 3rd, 2020, seven million young people of color will be old enough to vote and if you’ve read anything about young people, you should know they’re fired up. 

The real fight for 2020’s elusive “black vote” isn’t going to be for middle-aged and elderly voters. If any candidate wants to win, they’ll be trying to lock down a wave of first-time voters that’ve come of age in the era of Black Lives Matter, Green New Deals, and other activist movements — a strategy already forming the cornerstone of Sanders’ grassroots organizing effort. Just like the “hidden electorate” that defied polling data and pushed Trump into the White House in 2016, I think that this new wave of voters, and the candidates courting them, are key to understanding how 2020 will play out. 

Have feedback or want to slip us a tip? Reply to this or email chris@studyhall.xyz with your scoops and suggestions. 

Quick Hits

— TULSI GABBARD is going to need to take a break from emailing 9/11 conspiracy theories to her supporters because she’s somehow qualified for the November debate. 

— Also on stage will be AMY KLOBUCHAR, who’s centrist Midwestern mom energy finally connected with Americans in the October debate and helped her qualify for November and December’s debates.

— We live in a world where BETO “BORN TO BE IN IT” O’ROURKE has dropped out of the race before John Delaney, Wayne Messam, Marianne Williamson, Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, Joe Sestak, and Tom Steyer, who are all so insignificant I can’t even bother putting their names in bold and caps this week. Somewhere, in a dark parking lot outside of a Whataburger, Beto is skating in a forlorn daze while his wife stays at home watching the kids.

— A report on ANDREW YANG confirmed that his rallies are tailor-made to make stoner tech nerds prematurely ejaculate with chants of “PowerPoint” and his base of support is a total sausage fest: “On Facebook, Yang’s campaign ads have resonated more among men. Overall, Yang has directed 71 percent of his Facebook ad spending toward men.”

— KAMALA HARRIS proposing a plan to make kids sit in school for 10 hours a day is exactly the nightmare scenario I’d expect from someone who used to prosecute the parents of truant children.  

— Do sports betting sites really think CORY BOOKER is the favorite for the VP spot or do they just want to live in a world where Rosario Dawson is at the White House?

— JULIÁN CASTRO laying off his staff in two states reminds me of the time I watched this real-time simulation of the Titanic sinking. Tragically beautiful.

See you next week for another serving of Rubber Chicken Circuit. If you like this update, please hit the HEART button below! It helps us reach more readers.