Black Male Voters: Will They Decide the 2024 Election?

Seemingly overlooked in previous cycles, this time a party that repeats that does so at their peril.

D. Cowan is a public sector employee in Detroit, who voted for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the 2020 presidential election. Now, less than 300 days before the 2024 election, he’s undecided.

While he still plans to vote, Cowan, 49 (he requested that his full name be withheld), a working father of college graduates, has centered concerns about his economic well-being in his candidate selection process. “I would love to hear somebody say that that's the priority to make sure the cost of living goes down and you can save a lot more of what you're bringing home,” he said.

Cowan and the 9,587,404 other registered Black male voters, according to the Black Male Voter Project analysis, are a critical component of the American electorate and a necessary puzzle piece for the Biden-Harris campaign to place in order to secure their reelection to the White House in 2024. 

While often not given the same attention as their female counterparts, voters like Cowan, who want nothing more than to benefit from the “fruits of the labor truly,” turnout in 2024 could make the difference in control of the White House, U.S. Congress and State legislatures throughout the country.

W. Mondale Robinson, founder of the Black Male Voter Project, said voters like Cowan are often the decision makers and most progressive bloc in tight races, with high Black male voter turnout, albeit lower than the overall average, usually guaranteeing a Democratic victory. He went on to call out mainstream pundits and strategists for how they analyze and interact with this demographic.

“When you hear the mainstream media discussing us, they are often talking about one type of Black man and not the average Black man in America,” Robinson said. “They're talking about Black men who are members of [the] Divine Nine or the Masons or 100 Black Men [of America].

Those brothers are essential and real, but they don't make up the majority of Black men in this country.”

Biden Losing Support Among 2024 Black Voters, Survey Shows

Biden Losing Support Among 2024 Black Voters, Survey Shows

The last U.S Census showed 14 percent of Black men having a bachelor’s degree compared to 21 percent of “all men.” Additionally, 35 percent of Black men finished high school but did not pursue higher education, 22 percent attained some college with no degree, and 8 percent completed an associate degree. 

In January, Black men older than 20 years old experienced an unemployment rate of 5.3 percent, up from 4.6 percent in December. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that increase comes as nationwide unemployment fell to a record low of 3.7 percent.

The Missing Message

When evaluating how Black male voters will show up at the polls and in society, pundits and campaign strategists repeatedly miss these economic disparities, which are coupled with the often hard truth that Black men, on average, sit at the bottom of most quality-of-life indicators.

Robinson pointed out that, with record high suicide rates, lack of access to high-quality healthcare, a higher likelihood of being overpoliced and sometimes beset with housing insecurity, the lack of access to resources is the most significant form of voter suppression for Black men in America, especially those without college degrees.

“None of the voter suppression efforts from Republican state lawmakers are as powerful as a hungry stomach, a child that has to be fed, a job that pays a minimum wage that requires you to work overtime or two other jobs,” he said. “Those are the greatest [forms of] voter suppression in this country,” he said.

Despite these hurdles, Black men show up to the polls as the most progressive voters. In 2023, Black male voters in Ohio outperformed every other voting demographic in supporting a woman’s right to abortion access, according to an analysis done by NBC News. 

“Black men showed up,” he said. “Eighty-eight percent of Black men voted for it. And the closest demographic to us was Black women at 80 percent.”

This finding debunks a common talking point about Black men embracing the Republican Party. According to voter analysis conducted by the Brookings Institute, former President Donald J. Trump’s appeal to Black men is actually illusory: his share of Black male voters dropped from 14 percent in 2017 to 12 percent in 2020.

Meanwhile, Democrats’ share of the demographic actually increased from 81 percent to 87 percent during the past two presidential election cycles. 

There should be no doubt that Black male voters will decide the 2024 presidential election based on previous electoral voting patterns.  It’s now a question of how the two parties will communicate with them and put policy proposals in place to ensure that Black men actually dictate the manifestation of the American dream in their daily lives.

Opinion: Black Folks and the White House’s 2024 Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

For far too long, communicating with Black male voters has been part of a “get out the vote” strategy often starting during an election year after Labor Day. If the goal is to keep Black men as part of any political party’s voting coalition, now’s the time to include them as governing partners.

Take the case of Justin Powell, 36.

At 21, Powell made himself a fixture in Atlanta’s nightclub scene through hard work and know-how. As a bartender-turned-nightlife promoter, he sees himself outside of America’s political process. While he voted for Biden in 2020, he has no plans to vote in 2024.

“There is no political promise that can get me out [the] polls in this election,” Powell said.

Citing increasing housing costs, slowdowns in nightlife spending and a disconnect between his daily life and that of the elected leaders he voted for in 2020, Powell advises Washington lawmakers to focus on the economy. He praised Trump for his consistent support of his voters while he occupied the White House.

“I don’t know much about politics, but I feel that when Trump was in office, he was doing stuff to support his people,” Powell said. “And when other folks get in office, they don’t seem to care about their voters.”

When pressed on who Trump’s people were, Powell exclaimed, “cookie cutter White Americans.”

The Challenge of Seeing Black Men

With President Biden and Vice President Harris making multiple trips to Georgia since their 2020 electoral win, Powell argues that the White House’s focus on Georgia’s Black community has prioritized well-off and college-educated communities such as those linked to its HBCUs..

Powell acknowledged these places as important, but said they represent a small part of Atlanta's thriving Black community.

“If you think Atlanta runs the culture, that influence is coming from the hood,” Powell said. “Places they never go there.”

This lack of connection has created a messaging vacuum, which Powell believes has resulted in a lot of young Black men embracing the notion that Trump could be an answer to their economic woes.

That challenge keeps Quentin James, co-founder of the Collective PAC, up at night.

“Black men are some of the lowest invested in voters in the Democratic ecosystem,” James said. “And so, if we want to address our concerns around this disinformation, we have to step up and spend the money and resources to address those issues.”

Since 2016, The Collective PAC has been addressing nationwide Black under-representation in elected seats of power. Citing the ascension of Black male district attorneys and state attorney general to office, James hopes that 2024 will usher in an era where Black male issues are brought to the forefront.

“We saw in 2020 the horrific murder of George Floyd on camera, and it mobilized the nation and activists around the world,” said James. “But, what we didn’t see was after that was a real substantive policy change in the everyday lives of black men.”

James believes that now is the time for a different approach to better the lives of Black men.

“What we didn't see was a comprehensive look at the health, the wealth, the education, the livelihoods of Black men being taken seriously,” James said. “And I think that is what Black men want to see in this next presidential election cycle.”

Richard Fowler is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a millennial messaging expert and a Progressive Contributor for the Fox News Channel. Follow him on Instagram, @Richardafowler.

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