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Michigan Dems focus on Black voters during Detroit roundtable

Jodi Westrick
Michigan Public

Michigan Democrats continued their effort to gain support among Black voters with a roundtable talk Thursday in Detroit.

One of the main topics discussed was how to convince Black men it’s worth their while to vote for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign. Those who took part said it was important to highlight statistics around Black employment, business ownership, and health care access.

Reverend Kenneth J. Flowers, of Greater New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, said the Biden-Harris Administration has done enough to earn the Black vote, though he worries that message is being drowned out.

“Everyone wants to talk about the trials, the Trump, Trump, Trump. And it overshadows what the Biden campaign has done. So, we have to try to figure out a way to get that positivity out there,” Flowers said after the discussion.

Poll numbers released in mid-May from the New York Times and Siena College show Biden with only around 60% support from Black Michigan voters in a direct contest with former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

A previous poll from Howard University from February found fewer than 50% of both Black men and women in Michigan planned to vote for Biden, with an expanded field.

That poll found Biden’s age was among the main concerns listed. The economy, affordable housing, and income inequality were named as some of the top issues among Michigan Black voters this election cycle.

During Thursday’s discussion, participants felt those were winning issues for their side if they can reach voters with that message.

“We are meeting Black voters where they are as we continue to have conversations in our community about the stakes of this election and how Democrats have delivered. That’s why we have been organizing earlier than ever and building the infrastructure necessary to turnout Black folks this November for President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Democrats up and down the ballot. We aren’t taking any voters for granted and we are hitting the pavement and the airwaves to earn every single vote,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said in a written statement afterward.

But Trump’s campaign argues economic issues benefit the former president over Biden when it comes to reaching minority voters.

Janiyah Thomas, Black Media Director for Team Trump, said the former president's outreach to minority voters is "straightforward." "He shows up, listens, and makes it clear that we'll be better off with him as president, just like we were four years ago," she said in a statement. "Bidenomics is failing Michigan's black communities, with high inflation disproportionally hurting Black households. Ultimately, President Trump's economic policies offered more opportunities to build generational wealth for Black families, and Black voters are also frustrated with the Biden administration prioritizing illegal immigrants over our interests.”

Michigan is poised to be a key state in the November general election. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have visited Detroit in recent months.

Meanwhile, Trump has made multiple trips to Michigan this year.