On Tuesday, November 7, Americans head to the polls to cast their ballot in what could be another record breaking turnout for voters who have participated in recent midterm elections. According to a Gallup poll released earlier this week, 41% of registered voters say they plan to vote early, up from 34% in the 2018 midterms, which itself had the highest midterm election voter turnout in modern day history.
Another historical aspect about this year’s midterm elections is the record number of Black candidates who are running for higher political offices including five for the office of governor in Georgia, Iowa, Alabama, Arkansas, and Maryland. Even if just one of the candidates running is elected by voters, it would be only the third time America has elected a Black governor in its entire history. As part of its 2022 midterm get-out-the-vote effort, the Black Economic Alliance (BEA) , a nonpartisan group of Black business leaders and advocates, launched a six-figure ad campaign earlier this week to inform voters about the potential to make history in these races.
David Clunie, the organization’s executive director, said that a lot of people don’t know that there have been just a few Black governors to ever serve in the country. BEA has launched this campaign across media platforms to inform Black voters about the opportunity for impact in the governor's races as well as other offices where Black candidates are on the ballot.
“This is not only about putting Black folks in office who will look out for our interests, it is [also] about putting people who understand our community and understand the value to our democracy and our economy of Black folks being engaged at full participation,” said Clunie.
Since its launch in 2018, BEA has been working to bring increased representation of Black Americans in leadership positions across sectors including business and public policy. Its leaders raised more than $6 million and nearly $5 million in the 2018 and 2020 cycles, respectively, to boost Black turnout and influence races for the White House, Congress and gubernatorial seats. In addition to getting information such as key dates and deadlines to voters through various digital campaigns, BEA, for the first time this year, is endorsing candidates for lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state through its political action committee.
Through a text campaign in five key states, Clunie believes BEA has reached over half a million voters, and at least 19% have responded that they plan to vote. “We're trying to make sure that people have the information, the tools necessary to be equipped for success, not only on election day, but during all of election season,” he said.
The organization’s “What’s It Worth” campaign which is also new this year includes data about the economic status and power Black Americans have to help voters understand why their vote matters.
U.S. Census data from 2019 shows that Black households have significantly less wealth than that of Non-Hispanic white households. The survey found the median household wealth to be $14,100 for Black householders compared to $187,300 for Non-Hispanic White householders. According to a 2021 report released from the consulting firm McKinsey Global Institute, Black Americans are overrepresented in low-wage occupations – 43% of Black workers earn less than $30,000 per year.
Clunie said the overall goal of BEA’s midterm election push is to appeal to the core concerns Black Americans have about making ends meet by gaining financial stability and growth in a tough economy while connecting the historical and economic impact of the Black vote and what’s at stake.
“We really have an opportunity to shape history, for better or for worse, and we want to make sure that folks understand the impact of voting as well as the impact of not showing up,” said Clunie.
With the number of projected eligible Black voters to be over 32 million this year, Black voters have the chance to play a significant role in determining the outcome of key midterm races on Tuesday.
“The outcome of who is in charge of some really important decisions around our economy and how our democracy works, or does not work are on the ballot this year,” said Clunie, who added, “And we want to make sure we're making the case to everyone that it is so important to vote not only this year, but every year in every election.”
The Black Economic Alliance is encouraging your participation in the #ReclaimYourVote2022 campaign by registering to vote and casting your ballot. You can also check your registration status by going to their website.
Visit Reclaim Your Vote: Your Voice, Your Power, Our Democracy for more information. Visit vote.gov to register to vote, check your registration status, and find voter registration deadlines.