Let’s talk straight about President Biden’s popularity issue. It’s the unspoken anxiety looming over his re-election campaign that kicked off in late April. The growing disquiet around his waning support, particularly amongst Black and Hispanic voters, is hard to ignore. If we’re to gauge from the 2022 midterm data, the turnout was a tad shy for these critical voting demographics when compared to the 2018 midterm. Is Biden losing the favor of voters of color? The numbers speak volumes.
If we peruse the statistics, Biden’s approval ratings have seen a steep dip among Black Americans since he assumed office in January 2021. But here’s a surprise, it’s not the biggest fall. The most significant decline is noted among Hispanic Americans.
Despite the criticism faced by Biden’s campaign for its unsatisfactory outreach to Hispanic voters in 2020, quite a few of them, particularly from Miami and the Rio Grande Valley, backed former President Donald Trump in unexpectedly high numbers. Today, the Hispanic voter pool might be less supportive of Biden than even Black Americans, highlighting a potential weakness for the President as he gears up for his re-election.
However, it’s not all gloom and doom. Black Americans’ approval for Biden has seen an uptick from about 60 percent in July 2022 to approximately 70 percent in April 2023. This upward swing hints at a brighter economic outlook among Black Americans and suggests that Biden might be able to mend some fences, provided the economic conditions continue on this positive trajectory.
Regardless of these hopeful signs, it’s no secret that Biden’s approval rating has been in troubled waters since the bungled Afghanistan withdrawal, compounded by rising inflation. Particularly, voters of color seem to be disillusioned with Biden’s performance, with favorability ratings dropping by more than 13 points among Black and Hispanic Americans between spring 2021 and spring 2023.
Biden rode into office with a raft of ambitious promises — sweeping federal voting rights legislation, police reform, clear immigration pathways — but we’ve seen these fall short during his first two years when Democrats had control over Congress. Now, with Republicans helming the House of Representatives, these pledges seem farther from becoming reality than ever before.
Recent polls reveal that a significant number of voters of color are less inclined than other Democrats to want Biden back in the race. An Ipsos/Washington Post poll found that only 34 percent of Black Americans feel that Biden’s policies have benefited Black people, while 14 percent feel they have been detrimental, and a staggering 49 percent feel they’ve made no difference.
Yet, there are silver linings for Biden, particularly among Black voters. Despite some voters of color considering the possibility of switching to Republican candidates, or even abstaining from voting, Black voters haven’t completely lost faith in him.
Recent polls show that Black voters still regard Biden as the strongest candidate Democrats could nominate for president in 2024. Furthermore, an analysis from the Democratic-leaning firm Catalist found that while Black turnout did drop, support for Democrats increased in highly contested races in the South, suggesting that concentrated efforts in mobilizing the vote can yield positive results.
It’s clear that the success of Biden’s presidency is intimately tied to the state of the economy — a factor that’s not entirely in his control. Recent tracking polls indicate that perceptions among Black and Hispanic Americans about the economy are improving, albeit gradually.
The future is dependent on numerous factors — the inflation trend, potential recession risks due to inflation-curbing measures, and a prospective debt ceiling deal. A healthier economy might boost Biden’s chances and lower skepticism among voters of color about a second term. Regardless, it’s evident that for a successful 2024 campaign, Biden will need to actively engage with Black and Hispanic voters, reaffirming their importance to the Democratic coalition.