African-American voters could turn tides in 2020 Presidential Election

Posted at 5:20 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 12:33:10-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — From Georgia to Florida the African-American vote has a lot of power this year, especially in the race to the White House.

Education. Better roads. Housing. Healthcare. The economy. Jobs.

The power of the black vote and what issues matter the most to the African-American community is more consequential than ever in 2020.

When it comes to taking on issues that impact African-American communities some of those big conversations often happen in places like FADE Barbershop in Tallahassee.

For African Americans, barbershops are a place to bond while discussing social issues.

It's a place where owner Marlon Williams and his clients were talking about what's the most important to them.

"We need to make sure we can put people back to work and keep them employed," said Williams. "So the more jobs we can have will definitely help the black community."

Information from Pew Research Center shows that black voter turn out in 2016 was just 59.6 percent. That's down from a record high of 66.6 percent in 2012.

The seven percent drop is the largest for black voters from one presidential election to the next.

If turnout increases, African-American voters have a lot of weight this year, especially in a state like Florida.

"Florida is a swing state, it doesn't take much of a change anywhere to effect what happens in Florida," said Mark Earley, the Leon County supervisor of elections. "And that can have national implications."

Right now in Leon County there are 62, 077 registered black voters, which makes up 28 percent of voters in the county.

The question remains, after a year of decline will black voters show up this time around.

"I'm iffy about it because it is what it is, and they are going to do what they want," said April Ash, a registered voter in Leon County. "Every time I vote, I feel like it doesn't count."

Ash's sentiments are being felt by African Americans across the country.

Many say issues that generally reflect middle class, lower middle class, and minority populations are largely overlooked.

That includes mass or unjust incarcerations and the need for a fair working wage.

Dr. Nashid Madyun is the director of Meek Eaton Black Archives Research Center and Museum at Florida A&M University.

"If these issues are championed in a substantive way that resonates, that's genuine, African-American and minority populations will begin to consider who that candidate is and make that walk to the polls," Madyun said.

Madyun says to win the black vote, the candidates need to do more.

"Visiting an African-American church doesn't mean that you automatically get that vote.," said Madyun. "There needs to be a connection on a substantive level and that has yet to happen. It can happen, but there needs to be a more conscious effort to do so."

Throughout history, black voters have consistently supported Democratic candidates over Republicans by about 90 percent to 10 percent.

Regardless of what side of the aisle one chooses, there is no denying the importance of the black vote.

"Black votes matter," said LaTitus Smith, a barber at FADE. "When it's a mass amount of people to make a difference, it makes the community know that our voice has been heard."

Florida's presidential primary happened in March.

There is still have time to register for the general election. The deadline to register is October 5. Election day is November 3.