Out of South Carolina, an 'Early Warning Sign' for Biden

President doesn't seem to have same level of enthusiasm within Black community as in 2020
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 8, 2023 10:20 AM CDT
Out of South Carolina, an 'Early Warning Sign' for Biden
Laddie Howard, who owns a business making handcrafted leather goods, speaks during an interview at a local tavern in Columbia, South Carolina, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

LaJoia Broughton, a 41-year-old small-business owner, considers herself a fan of President Biden. He's provided opportunities for Black-owned business while bringing integrity to the White House, she said, and her decision for 2024 isn't in doubt. Destiny Humphreys is less enthusiastic. The 22-year-old senior at South Carolina State University, the state's only public historically Black college or university, or HBCU, said she's disappointed in the president, feeling his accomplishments have so far not lived up to his promises. "Honestly, I feel like right now America is in a state of emergency. We need some real change," said Humphreys, who remains unsure about her vote in next year's election, per the AP.

After a dismal start to his 2020 presidential campaign, Black voters in South Carolina rallied behind Biden, reviving his White House ambitions by driving his Democratic rivals from the race and ultimately putting him on a path to defeating then-President Trump. But at the outset of Biden's reelection bid, the conflicting views among the same voters provide an early warning sign of the challenges he faces as he aims to revive the diverse coalition that proved so crucial to him before. Black voters formed the heart of Biden's base of support, and any dip in support could prove consequential in some of the most fiercely competitive states, such as Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Well aware of the challenge, the Biden campaign says it's confident in its message and is planning to highlight how the president has prioritized issues that are important to Black Americans.

"The progress made in the first two years—whether it's the historically low Black unemployment rate, unprecedented funding to HBCUs, or [cutting] the black poverty rate in half—is all at stake in 2024," campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz said in a statement. "The campaign will work hard to earn every vote and expand on its winning 2020 coalition." Yet there are some early signs that Biden will have work to do to generate enthusiasm among Black voters for another run. Biden's approval rating among Black adults has fluctuated over his two years in office. As with most demographic groups, the latest AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds his 58% current approval rating among Black adults sitting well below where he began. Roughly 9 in 10 Black adults approved of Biden over his first months in office.

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About half of Democrats overall say they want Biden to run again in 2024, with 81% saying they'd definitely or probably support him if he were the nominee. The groundswell isn't as stark among Black adults: About 41% say they want him to run, and only 55% say they're likely to support him in the general. Interviews two years into his presidency with more than a dozen Black voters, representing a variety of ages and backgrounds, reveal mixed views, especially between older and younger voters. Many younger ones said they aren't sure Biden has delivered on their most important priorities. "He wouldn't have been president without us," said recent college grad Courtney McClain, 22. Older voters, however, are supporting him. "Everything is so extreme on the other side that, you know, I can't see many options besides Biden at this point," said business owner Laddie Howard, 52.

(More President Biden stories.)

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