What the 2019 Black Census report reveals about Black voter power in the 2020 election

Alicia Garza (Black Lives Matter co-founder) and the Black Futures Lab have released a report called “More Black Than Blue: Politics + Power in the 2019 Black Census.” The Black Futures Lab partnered with Color of Change, Demos, and Socioanalítica Research.

Launched in early 2018, the Black Census Project was an intensive survey of 30,000  Black people around the country about their political beliefs. The Black Futures Lab collaborated with 30 grassroots organizations to collect data online and on the street. Respondents were between the ages of 18 and 99 years old with 57.2 percent of them earning less than $50,000 per year. The survey responses provide invaluable insight into the needs and motivations of Black voters.

Part of the results of that survey are found in the report released today.

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“No Democratic candidate will win the White House without an engaged national movement of Black voters. More than half of Black Census respondents saying politicians do not care about Black people and their interests is a major problem for the party and for the country,” said Alicia Garza in a statement. “Candidates at every level, and especially those running for President, are being advised to follow a playbook for reaching Black voters that is ineffective, insincere and sometimes even embarrassing. The Black Census shows that the Black electorate want policies that improve our lives, not pandering photo ops at Black institutions.”

Garza expounded on that point in a New York Times op-ed: “During election season, I always cringe when I see candidates eating fried chicken next to a bottle of hot sauce in Harlem or taking staged photos with black leaders. These shallow symbolic gestures are not a substitute for meaningful engagement with black voters. And candidates should know that we see right through them,” Garza wrote.

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Some of the key findings from the survey:

Economic Justice:

  • Low wages are considered the most pressing among Black Census respondents, with 90% viewing it as a problem, including 85% who consider it a major problem.

  • Nearly half (48%) report living in a household that lacked enough funds to pay a monthly bill in the last 12 months and 31% cut back on food to save money.

 

Political & Civic Engagement:

  • 73% of respondents report voting in 2016 and a third (34%) of respondents also report engaging in other electoral activity, i.e. fundraising, volunteering, and/or canvassing.

  • Despite the notable level of electoral participation, 52% of respondents say  “politicians do not care about Black people and interests.”

 

Criminal Justice:

  • 87% of respondents consider police officers killing Black people a problem in the community; additionally, 84% percent say that police officers not being held accountable for their crimes is a problem.

  • More than half (55%) of respondents have personally had a negative interaction with the police at some point, and 28% of those describing a negative encounter with police in the last 6 months.

  • 84% support restoring voting rights of formerly incarcerated people while 63% strongly support it.

The Black Futures Lab will be releasing a series of reports analyzing the data from the Black Census Project.