Black Women Voters
No other loyal voting block has contributed to the democratic party like Black women. In the contentious presidential election cycle of 2016, voters were faced with the choice of two candidates with the lowest favorability ratings in presidential election history. According to the Edison national election poll (2016), 54% of women voted for Clinton, in comparison to 41% of women who voted for Trump. However, when the women’s vote is divided by race, it becomes clear that black women largely drove the so-called gender gap against Trump (1).
Among college educated women, 91% of Black women voted for Clinton, followed by 77% of non-white women, 65% of Hispanic women, and 51% of White women. Trump received 6% of Black women votes, followed by 19% of Non-white women, 28% of Hispanic women, and 45% of the White women vote.
This survey reveals that Black women in particular voted overwhelmingly for Clinton. In fact, more black women voted for Clinton than white women. Black women appeared to be #withher, while white women were #notwithher. This notion is discussed in the (2016) article titled “American women voted overwhelmingly for Clinton, except the white ones.” In 2016, Black women emerged as the real feminists when it comes to voting across gender lines. According to this data, Black women are the most loyal supporters of the Democratic Party, but some are beginning to have a change of heart.
Power of the Sister Vote Survey
The Power of the Sister Vote survey (2017) conducted in conjunction with the Black Women’s Round Table, showed in 2016 that (85%) of Black women felt that the Democratic Party best represented their interests. In 2017, that number dropped to 74 percent, a drop of 11 percent. There was also an increase in the number of Black women that think none of the political parties represent them, up to 21% from 13% in 2016. The age methodology of this survey was split into two groups. Women aged 18 – 34, and women ages 35 and over.
The top three issues survey participants were concerned about were:
Affordable Healthcare 48%
Criminal Justice Reform 43%
Quality Public Education 37% tied with Living Wage 37%
College affordability 19%
Equal Pay 18%
Entrepreneurship Opportunity 9%
Earned sick time/paid family leave 2%
There are many areas that can be analyzed to attempt to answer the question of why Black women voters are losing faith in the Democratic Party, starting with the abandonment of the working class.
The Working Class
Currently millions of everyday working people including black women are struggling without the basic necessities needed to enjoy a decent quality of life. Most working Americans are experiencing the same kinds of struggles across the nation; outrageous housing costs, food, health care, childcare and other basic necessities for themselves and their families. Over 50% of New Yorkers are rent burdened (4). In a CNN article published in June 2017, Kathryn Vasel reports that 39 Million Households are paying more for housing than they can afford (5). Most new jobs being created are temporary or service jobs that pay low to minimum wage. A worker, who is paid the minimum wage of $7.25/hour, or any wage below a living wage, cannot possibly afford basic necessities without assistance.
The Living Wage Movement
The fact that the surveyed Black women seem to care less about having a living wage is puzzling to me. At a time when resources, jobs and housing is scarce, one would think, a living wage would be on the top of this list, but perhaps this is not the case for the women sampled. Neither Democrats or Republicans are addressing this issue. You cannot have social justice without economic justice. If everyday Americans had a living wage, it would address many areas of their lives including healthcare. If Americans had a living wage, they would be able to afford quality healthcare. Ideology is one of primary reasons Black women voters are breaking away from the Democratic party. My concerns are that this survey sample is not statistically representative of black women across America.
The living wage movement is an important one that can provide improved living conditions for working class people. Working people spend a majority of their income stimulating the economy, and all businesses from big to small benefit from their earnings.The Living wage movement is directly tied to income inequality; a key issue former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders centered his campaign on, not Hillary Clinton. According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, the top 9 states with income inequality are #New Jersey, #8 Texas, #7 California, #6 Massachusetts, #5 Florida, #Nevada, #3 Wyoming #2 Connecticut, and #1 New York. As noted in this survey, New York is the hallmark of income inequality ranking at number #1(6).
Paid Family Leave
Women should not have to choose between their careers and having a family. I was surprised that amongst these women, earned sick time and paid family leave, was not a priority on this list. Women should not have to deal with the added pressure of losing their jobs if they are out on maternity for a certain amount of time.
NY Democratic Primary 2016
I volunteered in the 2016 presidential primaries, and from what I witnessed, the excitement and enthusiasm was around two candidates, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and Republican candidate now the 45th president Donald J. Trump. The #imwithher campaign was simply no comparison to the mass appeal of Mr. Sanders’ populist message, or President Trump’s reality TV driven, almost comedic, side show. As it relates to Democrats, voters were not as passionate or enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as they were about Bernie Sanders. All Trump supporters are not racists. There was an anti-establishment political climate in 2016, and Trump and Sanders understood that. I knew if Bernie Sanders did not receive the Democratic nomination over Hillary Clinton, she was going to lose in the general election. HRC’s loss had nothing to do with her being a woman. It had more to do with a campaign that had no message, and did not stand for anything valuable to the majority of voters. Hillary Clinton represented the establishment, and more of the same, when voters were screaming for change.
2016 Election Results
The Hill reports about 139 million Americans, or 60.2 percent of the voting-eligible population, cast a ballot in the 2016 November’s elections, according to data compiled by the US Elections Project (7). Clinton needed the Obama coalition to win in 2016, which was down from 62.2 percent in 2008, to 60.2 in 2016. Low favorability ratings primarily derive from a lack of excitement and enthusiasm about a candidate. The American people did not like either candidate very much. Voters were casting protest votes against candidates instead of for the candidates. The 2016 election cycle proved this country is polarized by partisan politics. Motivated by fear, most people on the left and right casts their ballot along partisan lines for the candidate who happened to be at the top of their parties’ ticket. Governed by the two party systems that determine our president, most voters felt they had no choice.
According to the National Education Center for Education Statistics (2017), Black Women are the most educated group in the United States.
1.The Roots: A new report confirms that black women are now the most educated group in the United States. “But we still have a long way to go for pay equity.” (Bronner Helm).
2. The Independent reports: Black women become most educated group in US. A recent study found black women make up just 8 per cent of private sector jobs and 1.5 percent of leadership roles. (Osborne)
3. Upworthy Reports: Black women are now America’s most educated group. “They’re the most educated group in America, but they’re still grossly underpaid.” (Stewart)
4. The Washington Post reports: Democrats take them for granted. Black women call out party leaders on post-election strategy. (Williams)
“More than two dozen African American women, including political activists and elected officials, signed an open letter to Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez criticizing him for seeming to take for granted the party’s most loyal base of support.”
Taking these reports at face value, we can conclude that black women are intelligent enough to make strategic, educated, and well informed decisions that are in their best interests.
What is the reason for this considerable decline in support for the Democratic Party amongst black women?
Partisan politics is not working anymore.Voters can be conservative on some issues, and liberal on others. More people in this country are unified by class than anything else. In the United States, Independents make up a larger part of the electorate than Democrats and Republicans. I have joined the ranks of voters jumping off the sinking Democratic ship; some even call the democratic plantation. To have a functioning democracy, we must continue to hold our elected officials accountable, and
1. 2016 Election Exit Polls. The Edison National Poll. The Washington Post.
election/exitpolls/.November 29, 2016.
2. Mohdin, A. (2016) American women voted overwhelmingly for Clinton, except the
for-clinton-except-the-white-ones/. November 9, 2016.
3. Power of the Sister Vote Survey.
4. Sugar, Rachel. More Than Half of New Yorkers are Rent Burdened. NY Curbed.
5. Vasel, Kathryn. 39 Million Households are paying more for housing than they can
affordability-harvard/index.html. June 6, 2016.
6. Picchi, A. (2016) 9 U.S. states with the highest income inequality. CBS
inequality/2/. June 16, 2016.
7. Reid, Wilson. New Report shows that voter turnout in 2016 topped 2012. The Hill.
2012. March 16, 2017.
8. The National Center for Education Statistics. U.S. Department of Education, National
Center for Education Statistics. (2017). Status and Trends in the Education of Racial
and Ethnic Groups 2017 (NCES 2017-051), Degrees Awarded.
9. Bronner Helm, A. Black Women Now The Most Educated Group in the US.The
1790855540. June 5, 2016.
10. Osbourne, Samuel. Black Women become the most educated group in the U.S.
The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/black-
women-become-most educated-group-in-us-a7063361.html. June 3, 2016.
11. Stewart, K. Black Women are now America’s most educated group.Upworthy.
May 26, 2016.
12. Malveaux, J. (2017) Black Women and Democrats – The Thrill Is Gone! Chicago
gone/. September 28, 2017.
13. Williams, V. Democrats take them for granted’: Black women call out party leaders
on post-election strategy. The Washington Post.
and-the-dnc/tid=a_inl&utm_term=.766a3c86ed59. June 1, 2017.