Black women identify top issues ahead of 2024, issue call to action in new poll

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A new poll has found that Black women are increasingly disappointed in the direction the country is going, and it could spell trouble for President Biden in 2024.

The Hill received an exclusive look at the survey conducted by The Highland Project, which shows 61 percent of Black women are dissatisfied with the direction of the country. Many identified the economy, racism and gun violence as some of their top issues ahead of the 2024 election cycle.

“Black women, we are core to how this nation has been built,” Gabrielle Wyatt, founder of The Highland Project, told The Hill. “We are core to the prosperity of this nation and we are deeply hurting and our support is not guaranteed.”

The survey is the organization’s third poll since its creation in 2020. The latest poll, which has a margin of error overall of plus or minus 3.7 percent, found that Black women’s support for Biden has decreased by 20 points since his election, with 69 percent of Millennial and Gen Z voters reporting they are dissatisfied with the direction the country is going.

The dissatisfaction stems from a multitude of cross-pressure issues including rising sexism and racism, said Cornell Belcher, a premier pollster who partnered with Highland for the survey.

“It is startling to me, for example, how many women say that they experience sexism or racism on a fairly frequent basis, and then you pile on top of that this sense of falling behind economically. … They are challenged on all sides in their ability to thrive,” Belcher told The Hill.

Since The Highland Project’s 2021 poll, Black women have reported an 8 percent increase in experiencing racism in their everyday lives and a 12 percent increase in experiencing sexism. Today, 47 percent of Black women say they experience racism on a daily basis.

“We’ve seen this in our research over the last couple of years, quite frankly, since the election of Donald Trump, that there is a sense among Black and brown communities that racism is on the rise, and it’s more upfront and in your face now,” he added. “It is becoming more mainstream, and these women certainly feel that and think it is a part of the hurdle that is getting in the way of their ability to thrive.”

Meanwhile, the percentage of Black women who have said the economy is getting worse increased from 33 percent in 2021 to 61 percent today. Only 17 percent of Black women feel the economy is getting better.

Young voters are particularly anxious about the economy, with 70 percent of those who are unmarried and between 18-49 saying economic conditions are worsening.

“There’s tremendous economic angst for them in that they feel as though they’re falling behind economically,” Belcher said.

The survey found that 55 percent of Black women identified systemic barriers as obstacles to economic success and upward mobility, including racism and discrimination, economic inequality that favors the wealthy and a lack of job opportunities.

Black women in the survey also said they feel a recession, crime and violence and climate change will impact their lives in the future. Reducing gun violence, protecting reproductive freedom including abortion rights, and standing up against racism and discrimination make up Black women’s top three issues.

“We do not feel safe, not only in our economic security, but we don’t feel safe when it comes to gun violence and crime, and we do not feel safe when it comes to how our reproductive rights are being protected or not protected, for that matter,” Wyatt said.

In his research, Belcher said Black women have indicated that they do not feel heard, and that federal legislators are too busy fighting amongst themselves to address the issues that constituents care about the most.

Belcher said it’s not entirely sure how these issues will impact 2024 voter turnout among Black women, but that Biden and the larger Democratic Party still have time to engage with Black women on these issues, especially because Democrats cannot win without Black voters — and that has been true for decades.

“Democrats have not won a majority of white voters since [President Lyndon B. Johnson] signed the Civil Rights Act and realigned the parties,” Belcher said. “LBJ … famously said, we have lost the South for a generation, but what is true is they lost the South for several generations.”

Even when President Obama won reelection in 2012, he only won 39 percent of the white vote, Belcher pointed out. In 2020, Biden fared slightly better by winning 41 percent of the white vote. Neither are near a majority.

“How important is the Black vote to Democrats? They’re not winning without it,” Belcher said.

Still, more than 1 in 5 Black women — 13 percent — are undecided or don’t support either major party’s candidates, the survey found.

But the survey also identified policies Black women want to see candidates take a stance on to show that they are centering their demographic.

Wyatt said political leaders need to submit a “caregiver-centered agenda” to help Black women thrive in America.

The caregiver-centered agenda represents “the multitudes of how Black women have served and poured into not only their traditional homes, their communities, but also the nation,” Wyatt said. That includes ensuring history, including racism and slavery, are accurately taught; raising teacher pay; passing a federal paid family leave policy; banning assault weapons; and protecting abortion rights.

“It is well-documented how Black women are reaching record levels of burnout due to the lack of support and financial capital across the board,” Wyatt said. “To build a world of uninterrupted progress for justice, we have got to invest in Black women and not only for short-term progress, but as real human beings imagining and building multigenerational change that impacts all of us, that impacts our national prosperity.”

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