The Black Women’s Roundtable and Essence’s “Power of the Sister Vote” poll not only revealed the intentions of African Americans for the 2020 election, it also made clear what Black women want from presidential candidates.
“The 2019 BWR/Essence poll results and the inspiring attendance at the BWR Policy Forum illustrate that Black women are demanding respect for their leadership and vote,” said Melanie Campbell, BWR’s national convener and president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
The results showed that Black women have strong opinions about what they require from the 2020 presidential candidates in order to win their vote, Campbell said.
“Over 95 percent of the Black women who responded identified they plan to vote in 2020 and most are still undecided about who they will vote for and are still ‘shopping’ and have not made up their minds,” she said.
“Black women drive the Black vote and are the ‘secret sauce’ to winning the Black vote. So, the poll also provides insight for those candidates who need the Black vote to win, not just for president, but, for other national, state and local elections,” Campbell said.
Long identified as the most reliable voters for Democrats, political experts believe that Black women will be central to the crucial 2020 presidential election.
The fifth annual poll revealed that older Black women were leaning toward former Vice President Joe Biden. Younger Black women said progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders would be their top choice.
The authors of the survey said the results reveal a chasm between the political leanings of millennials and Generation Z (18-34), Black women between the ages of 35-50 and older.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) comes in second with both groups (15 percent and 17.1 percent respectively); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) comes in third (12 percent and 13.7 percent respectively). New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (1.7 percent) continues to struggle to gain traction even as the Democratic field narrows.
The survey, which polled 1,068 Black women representing a range of ages, as well as diversity in economic and education backgrounds, focused primarily on which candidate would participants vote for if the election were held today, what most concerns Black women this election cycle and what candidates have to do to earn their votes.
Black community priorities have shifted for some Black women, according to Essence. In 2019, criminal justice and policing reform is the no. 1 issue, separated by a mere 1 percent from affordable health care.
In 2018, the number one issue was hate crimes/racism, up to 55 percent from 33 percent in 2017. While hate crimes/racism remains a key concern at number three, with a 13-point drop from 2018, it is now tied with equal rights and equal pay, which has risen 14 points as a concern from 2018, according to Essence.
Financial safety and reduced taxes for lower-income and middle-class families ranked as the top issue for older Black women polled, while 51 percent of millennials and Gen Z respondents rank addressing the catastrophic rates of Black maternal morbidity and infant death as their top priority.
Gun safety, gentrification, college affordability, and quality education also top the list as pressing concerns of the respondents — as well as climate change and environmental injustice, Essence reported.
“The fight of black women has always been fueled and grounded in faith and in the belief of what is possible,” Harris said during a candidates’ forum in New Orleans this summer. “And that’s why Sojourner spoke. It’s why Mae flew. It’s why Rosa and Claudette sat. It’s why Maya wrote. It’s why Fanny organized. It’s why Shirley ran, and why I stand here as a candidate for president of the United States.”
At the same forum, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was asked if he could win without Black women voters.
“I don’t think that a candidate would deserve to win a primary without seeking and earning the votes of Black women,” Buttigieg said. “That’s part of why we’re here. It’s part of why we’re making sure it’s clear how our proposals will benefit people of color. I believe that it would be not only politically wrong but unethical to leave any source of support on the table.”