Biden-Harris 2024 campaign gets early start with outreach to Black voters

"There's no doubt Black voters have been and will continue to be the backbone of the democratic coalition,” Michael Tyler, the Biden-Harris campaign’s communications director, told theGrio.

The Biden-Harris 2024 re-election campaign is getting an early start with its outreach to Black voters ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Election Day is 13 months away, but that hasn’t stopped Team Biden-Harris from launching a string of ads geared toward reaching Black voters and informing them what the Biden-Harris administration has done on their behalf.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hold hands at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) 2023 Winter meeting in Philadelphia on Feb. 3, 2023. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

This week, the Biden-Harris campaign released its first targeted radio ad buy in key competitive swing states as part of what it touts as a historic $25 million paid media campaign.

The “Commitment” ad highlights President Joe Biden’s executive and legislative actions that have “made a real difference for Black America.” 

Those policy actions include the president signing an executive order advancing racial equity throughout every federal agency on Biden’s first day in office, expanding funding for Black businesses in an effort to close the racial wealth gap, and lowering the costs of energy bills and prescription drugs like insulin through the Inflation Reduction Act.

“President Biden is getting it done for us – and that’s the fact,” says a voiceover on the radio ad that is running nationally through syndicated outlets and locally in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.

The Biden-Harris campaign told theGrio that it recognizes that Black voters are essential to their path to victory and that its early investments in reaching them make that clear.

“There’s no doubt Black voters have been and will continue to be the backbone of the democratic coalition,” Michael Tyler, the Biden-Harris campaign’s communications director, told theGrio.

“They were crucial to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ victory in 2020. They were crucial to our historic successes in the midterms. They’re going to be crucial to our victory in 2024.”

The campaign released its first nationwide ad targeting Black voters in September with the TV ad “First Day,” which highlighted President Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic crisis. A second TV ad, “Get Ahead,” was released almost two weeks ago.

“When he took office in January 2021, he was faced with historic challenges: the greatest public health crisis in a century, the greatest economic crisis since the Great Recession, the greatest threat to our democracy in our lifetimes,” recalled Tyler.

“He got to work particularly on fixing the economy. It wasn’t just about restoring the economy that we had, pre-pandemic. It was also an opportunity for him to tackle what he saw as historic injustices that were baked into the fabric of our economy.”

The Biden-Harris communications director continued, “We had growing income inequality and growing racial wealth gap. We had Black communities that had been victimized by disinvestment for generations.” 

While polling shows that Black voters overwhelmingly approve of the Biden-Harris White House than other racial and ethnic groups, their support has steadily waned, particularly when compared to their 92 percent support for the Biden-Harris ticket in the 2020 presidential election.

“A lot of folks don’t even know about their equity agenda…so there’s still narratives from these hardcore progressive Democrats who are still pushing right-wing talking points [that] this administration isn’t doing anything for Black people,” said political science professor Christina M. Greer of Fordham University.

U.S. President Joe Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Representative Maxwell Frost, Democrat of Florida, announces the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention on Sept. 22, 2023, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Acknowledging conservative obstacles that have thwarted some of the Biden-Harris administration’s agenda, like police reform, voting rights, and even student loans, Greer told theGrio that she believes Democrats writ large “should and could be a lot more organized in getting [out] this messaging and really walking people through what they’re doing, what is being done to their agenda, and like how they’re working to combat that.”

While the Biden-Harris campaign is clear that President Biden and Vice President Harris have brought transformational change for the better to Black communities, Tyler acknowledged, “The stakes are high for Black Americans, and we aren’t taking any vote for granted.”

Tyler said through the first round of ads, the campaign wanted to ensure that people “understand the intent behind what the president has accomplished.”

“So when you look at the results of Bidenomics, you look at the fact that we have lowered Black unemployment to the lowest rate ever, and we’ve made unprecedented funding to HBCUs,” explained Tyler.

“He signed into law the bipartisan infrastructure law that addresses neglected infrastructure in Black communities. That’s not a byproduct of the president’s work; it is precisely the intent of what he wants to do.”

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. President Joe Biden applaud during an event on Feb. 2, 2023, marking the 30th Anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

The campaign’s latest targeting of Black voters through radio is an intentional strategy, as more than 90 percent of Black adults consume radio monthly. While the Biden-Harris campaign acknowledged that voters might not be consuming political news at the moment, they didn’t want to wait until election season was in full swing to reach them where they were with the president’s message.

The campaign also launched its rapid response operation at the Biden campaign’s headquarters in Delaware to push back against misinformation and disinformation on social media – another platform where Black voters consume information and content. 

Misinformation targeting Black voters has been a major concern in the past several election cycles, including disinformation campaigns launched by foreign actors like Russia and China. The campaign plans to arm itself with tools to fight back against falsehoods that seek to encourage Black voters to sit out in the 2024 elections.

The campaign said another message it wants to get out to Black voters is that the alternative to another four years of the Biden-Harris administration will be detrimental to communities of color.

“The past three years will stand in stark contrast to the extremist MAGA Republicans, whether it’s Donald Trump or whoever else we’re faced with who wants to return us to these failed policies that gut investments to Black communities, that ships more jobs in Black communities overseas,” said Tyler.

“We’re showing up right now and focusing on this administration’s successful efforts to help create good-paying jobs in Black communities, provide more funding for Black businesses, and lower the cost of living for Black families,” added the Biden-Harris campaign official. 

“All of which stands in stark contrast to the extreme MAGA Republicans like Donald Trump, who want to roll back the progress we’ve made by handing out tax giveaways for the ultra-wealthy and corporations at the expense of working people.”

Gerren Keith Gaynor

Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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