Steve Schale: Black voter turnout could rival Barack Obama elections

national black voter day
Any increase in Black voter turnout likely will help Democrats.

The numbers of Black voters casting ballots by mail or at early voting sites so far is leading Democratic strategists to suggest final Black turnout numbers could rival historic levels seen in the 2008 and 2012 elections that put Barack Obama in the White House and kept him there for a second term.

“I think it will look a lot like what Obama did in 2012,” veteran Florida Democratic strategist Steve Schale said Wednesday in a Zoom press briefing with the Democratic-allied analytics firm Hawkfish and the BlackPAC political action committee.

The math is complicated. What’s more, Schale, who this year serves as  chief executive of the Unite The Country PAC, cautioned that absolutely nothing occurring in 2020 voting trends has any precedent that could lead to easy assumptions.

Yet he, BlackPAC Executive Director Adrianne Shropshire, and Hawkfish Chief Executive Josh Mendelsohn contended Wednesday they are very encouraged that Black voter turnout through early Wednesday already is 95% of what was seen for all early-voting and vote-by-mail returns in 2016, with nearly a week to go.

One key number within that: Black voters make up 12.5% of those who’ve already voted. While that proportion is below their 13% proportion of the total voter base, it is well ahead of what is usually seen for the counts of early- and vote-by-mail balloting.

With Black voters historically voting late in early voting or on Election Day, the proportion of the voting that is cast by Black voters tends to climb late, Schale said. In 2008 and 2012, the final proportion was about 13.5%, he said.

“I think that’s very doable,” Schale said.

“Typically at this point, six days out, Black voters would make up 9, 10, 10.5, maybe 11 percent of the electorate,” Schale said.

“As history will tell us, Black folks prefer to vote in person,” Shropshire said. She added that direct voter outreach is finding many Black voters insisting they intend to vote on Election Day.

Here’s why it matters.

Much of the battle for Republicans and their campaigns has been over driving up targeted voter turnouts among White voters, whose voter registrations in Florida slightly favor Republicans, and Hispanic voters, whose voter registrations slightly favor Democrats.

There’s no such nuance in the Black vote. However much Republicans and President Donald Trump‘s campaign have been trying to change historic deficits with efforts like Black Voices for Trump, Black voter registration is overwhelmingly Democratic. So any increase in Black turnout is almost an automatic boost for Democrats.

There were some down numbers that concerned the Democratic strategists. Black turnout is running less than anticipated in some big counties, particularly Miami-Dade County. Young Black voters are not turning out in impressive numbers yet.

Still, Shropshire said voter outreach is finding a very high energy among Black voters, whom she believes will not be dissuaded by any concerns over in-person voting.

“People want this President gone, and they are prepared to do what is necessary to make that real.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]



    October 28, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    I’m white and voted in person in FL to re-elect Trump. My son is African American/Irish/Italian and voted in person in FL to re-elect Trump. Because he is black and conservative, he has been called token, not black enough and a traitor to his race by those on the Left. He “gets” that the Left promise the moon and the stars to people of color but NEVER follow through with those promises – EVER. He thinks for himself and understands that is the epitome of freedom.

    President Trump and Republicans have delivered for the black community on tangible policies that have had a positive impact — something the Democrats never achieved. Trump has been one of the most impactful presidents for African Americans from a policy perspective — and that’s what matters.

    His recent police-reform executive order, the First Step Act, released thousands of people from jail (90 percent of whom were black). He has promoted “opportunity zones” that incentivized private investment into marginalized communities, and also increased federal funding to historically black colleges and universities by 17 percent — a total exceeding $100 million, more than any president in history. Meanwhile, the Obama administration infamously removed a two-year Bush-administration program that annually funded $85 million directly to these prized institutions.

    The 1994 crime law, which Biden helped author when he was a senator, incentivized local police departments to lock up as many black people as possible, creating mass incarceration of African Americans, along with more prison cells and more aggressive policing. In addition, Biden was responsible for a provision in the 1986 crack law which came to be viewed as one of the most racially slanted sentencing policies on record: a rule that treated crack cocaine as significantly worse than powder cocaine and ended up disproportionately punishing African Americans and sending them to prison but sparing white Americans who typically used cocaine.

    Before COVID the economy was the strongest in U.S. history. African Americans were experiencing the best economy we have ever seen: Unemployment for our racial group was the lowest in recorded history, black wages were rapidly increasing for the first time in decades, and people who’d been out of work long-term were being hired and suddenly able to take their families on vacations for the first time in years.

    Trump signed an executive order moving the federal initiative HBCUs into the White House from the Department of Education, where it was housed under President Barack Obama’s administration. It establishes a President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs. It was officially titled Presidential Executive Order on The White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
    “With this executive order, we will make HBCUs a priority in the White House — an absolute priority,” Trump said.

    “This was something that, frankly, the black college community assumed would have been easily accomplished with the first African-American president, and after over eight years of repeated requests, to think that within 45 days of his presidency we were able to convene all of the [HBCU] presidents in the Oval Office and a subset of us were able to come back and sign the executive order. The order establishes an executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, which will be in the Executive Office of the President. Part of that person’s responsibilities will be to strengthen schools through enhanced planning and development, collaboration with the private sector, participation in federal programs and upgrading infrastructure.

    Tim Scott’s Opportunity Zones will provide tax incentives for investment in parts of the country that have not seen big gains since the Great Recession ended. He helped get the provision tucked in the tax bill signed by Trump in December 2017.


    October 28, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    At a fundraiser, Joe Biden pulled a Joe Biden, stirring up controversy after speaking off the cuff about his fond memories of working alongside segregationist senators

    May 2020: “You ain’t black.”

    In an interview with “The Breakfast Club,” the presumptive Democratic nominee told host Charlamagne tha God, “I tell you if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” before defending his record with the black community.

    August 2019: “Poor kids” just as bright as “white kids”

    At a campaign event in Iowa, Biden told supporters “poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids.” He quickly corrected himself after some applause by adding: “Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids.”

    June 2019: “The kid wearing a hoodie.”

    While discussing the need for criminal justice reform at a luncheon last year, Biden said “We’ve got to recognize that the kid wearing a hoodie may very well be the next poet laureate and not a gangbanger,” Biden said. Biden quickly drew criticism for his use of the word “gangbanger.” Former presidential candidate Cory Booker said Biden “needs to have the language to talk about race in a far more constructive way.”

    August 2012: “Put y’all back in chains”

    Then-Vice President Biden told a Virginia audience (NAACP) that then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s financial regulation lifts would “put y’all back in chains.”

    “He said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules,” Biden said. “Unchain Wall Street! They’re gonna put y’all back in chains.”

    February 2007:

    Biden, while running for the 2008 presidency, issued what he thought was praise of then-Senator Barack Obama, saying he was “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.”

    2006: “You can’t go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent”

    July 2020: Biden sparked controversy across social media on Wednesday after a preview clip from the interview (black host) showed a separate tense exchange with CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett on whether the former VP has taken a cognitive test. “No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test? Come on, man. That’s like saying you, before you (the host) got on this program, you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?” Biden told Barnett, who is Black.

    Biden accusing a black man of being a junkie is the latest in the ugly racist stereotypes Biden’s trafficked in during this campaign.

    August 2020: Biden responded. “And by the way, what you all know, but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things.”

    September 2020 Biden: “The reason I was able to stay sequestered in my home was because some black woman was able to stock the grocery shelf.”

  • Ocean Joe

    October 28, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    You forgot to cut and paste the part about that crazy “liberal” Supreme Court and LBJ putting an end to segregation. Had you traveled with your family in the 1950’s across the south, including Florida, you would have had trouble finding a place to stay, eat, or even use a restroom. It’s different now, but it took a lot of effort. People like Trump and Kushner, born on home plate, have no clue. Maybe Trump does, since he and his father were sued for refusing to rent to Blacks.

    It’s different now, but don’t pretend it didn’t come with incredible sacrifice, including the loss of the south to Democrats for a generation as their punishment for doing the right thing.

  • Joe Ptak

    October 30, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    This article is nothing but wishful thinking by Democrat operatives…Biden is looking at a disaster in Florida. The Latino vote for Trump is causing Democrats heartburn…especially in Miami-Dade County. Latinos want no part of socialism that now rules and controls the Democrat Party.

Comments are closed.


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