Biden and Trump Compete for African American Votes Amidst Racial Tensions

"What would Trump do if the riots in the Capitol were led by black Americans?" Biden said in Detroit

by Sededin Dedovic
Biden and Trump Compete for African American Votes Amidst Racial Tensions
© Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

Joe Biden has launched one of his sharpest attacks yet on Donald Trump’s record on racism, suggesting that the former U.S. president would have responded differently to the January 6, 2021 insurrection if it had been led by Black people.

These statements, made at a dinner organized by a civil rights organization, pointed to an intensifying battle between Biden and Trump for African American voters ahead of the presidential election in November. “Let me ask you,” Biden said during his address at the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) dinner in Detroit.

“What do you think Trump would have done on January 6 if Black Americans had stormed the Capitol?” reported The Guardian. In the convention center, where an estimated 5,000 guests were gathered, there was a collective gasp and murmuring.

The president insisted, “No, I’m serious. What do you think? I can only imagine”. The vast majority of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to overturn his election defeat were white.

More than 1,265 have been charged, and hundreds imprisoned for their roles in the January 6 riots. But Trump has described them as “patriots” and “hostages” and, as Biden noted in his comments, suggested he would pardon them if re-elected.

Biden spoke during a campaign through Georgia and Michigan, two battlegrounds where Black voting will be crucial. Polls show that a small but significant percentage is shifting from Biden to Trump.

Morehouse College alumni take a photo at the Morehouse College Commencement on May 19, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia.

President Joe B© Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

The president told the audience in Detroit, “You are the reason Donald Trump was defeated for president. You are the reason Donald Trump will be a loser again”.

Biden praised his own record but kept returning to Trump and the threat he poses to democracy. He highlighted his appointment of the first Black female Supreme Court justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson. “Let me ask you, who do you think he will put on the Supreme Court?” he asked.

“Do you think he will pick anyone who has a brain?” Biden also accused Republicans of banning books and undermining African American history. “Extremists are closing the doors of opportunity, rolling back affirmative action, attacking the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” he said.

“They do not see you in America’s future, but they are wrong. We know Black history is American history”. The president also warned, “The threat Trump poses in a second term is greater than in the first”.

He said that “something broke in Trump” after his 2020 election defeat and that he is “clearly unhinged”. Among the other speakers was Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2028.

African Americans are an important voting bloc

One of the key messages of U.S. President Joe Biden’s election campaign, that Donald Trump is a threat to democracy, is gaining less traction among African American supporters and those without college degrees compared to other segments of his political base, according to a poll conducted by Reuters and market research firm Ipsos.

Concerns about political extremism and threats to democracy have emerged among Americans’ top worries, following historical events including Trump’s attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss, the Supreme Court’s move to end nationwide abortion rights, and the increase in migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Reuters reports.

Trump has continued to falsely claim that his 2020 defeat was due to fraud, a stance adopted by most Republicans, which Biden has warned could erode voter confidence in the democratic process.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at the annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner hosted by t© Scott Olson / Getty Images

About 65 percent of respondents, including 72 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans, said they were concerned that “partisan state legislatures will overturn elections” in some states to support a presidential candidate.

The remaining respondents said they were not concerned or did not answer the question. About two out of five Republicans and two out of five Democrats consider the other party an immediate threat to the United States, according to this poll.

Biden’s African American supporters, who make up about one-fifth of his political base, were significantly less likely than his white supporters to say they voted to stop Trump, 37 percent versus 65 percent. African American Democrats were also less likely to say they were concerned that a presidential candidate would steal the election or that partisan state legislatures would overturn the results.

African American voters in the U.S. have been strongly Democratic for decades. Among Biden’s supporters without college degrees, 53 percent said they wanted to stop Trump, compared to 64 percent of those with degrees. Biden is also campaigning on messages that he has helped the American economy and promises to defend abortion rights.

Nearly half of Biden’s African American supporters said they back him because of his policies, compared to about a third of his white supporters.