THE BLACK MALE VOTE IN 2020: A REFERENDUM ON THE SYSTEM?

In 2016 President Trump won in large part because he carried white voters without a college degree by a bigger margin than any recent GOP presidential nominee. The support from this base was expected to fall. However, the increase, to many pundits and pollsters, of support Black males was up in the air; some pundits predicted it would increase while others said it would stay the same.

While votes in certain areas are still being counted and the Trump campaign contesting the election in the courts exit polling shows that, for the first time in modern history about 26 percent of Black men who had a high school diploma or less supported and 22 percent of Black men with bachelor’s degrees and 20 percent of Black men with advanced degrees supported Trump. On the other hand, the support for the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden reached a new low among Black men this year, according to the NBC News poll of early Election Day data 80 percent of Black men supported Biden, down slightly from Hilary Clinton’s 82 percent in 2016 and significantly down from Barack Obama’s level of support among Black men in 2012 and 2008.

According to the NBC poll, over half of Black men (52 percent) who identified as ideologically conservative cast their vote for the president, and 1 in 3 Black men living in the Midwest also voted for Trump.

In the final 6 months of his campaign Trump made appeals to for Black voters, gaining endorsements from rappers like Lil Wayne and partnering with entertainer Ice Cube to create what the Trump Campaign dubbed the Platinum Plan. This stumping for the Black vote had some results, not overwhelming, but unusual for a republican candidate.

“He made a career locking us up. I ain’t voting for that,” Marquise Brooks, a junior at Morgan Park College said referencing the mixed history of Biden and the 1994 Crime Bill that has been attributed to contributing to the mass incarceration of Black Americans.

This shift in voting behavior of Black men, while not widely predicted, still occurred with seemingly no effect on the election’s ultimate outcome. When asked about this, Cergio Brown, an assistant political science professor at the University of Arizona said, “There are a few factors that could explain this margin of Black men voting for a polarizing figure like Trump. The framing of Biden as the author of the ‘94 Crime Bill, while true, if taken out of context, could have worked”. Brown went on to say; “I think, if anything this was a referendum on the system. This election, didn’t give Black people, specifically, Black men much of a choice—two old white guys claiming they’ll help.”

The idea that the increase in Black male support for trump as a referendum on the system i.e. not having solid choice and not a shift in voter values is a theory that will have to be tested by time. If the support for Trump was only a momentary outcome under an already unprecedented election circumstance, then in the coming elections (2022 and 2024) the level of support for GOP candidate should return to its traditional numbers.