The left had such high hopes for Stacey Abrams. Over the past four years, she has flown to lofty heights within the progressive hierarchy – but like Icarus, it appears Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate crept too close to the sun and now finds herself in a downward trajectory politically.
Abrams is lagging behind her opponent, incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, as enthusiasm over her campaign has waned. Perhaps the most noteworthy facet of this development is the candidate’s declining popularity among black voters, a demographic she has championed throughout her career.
Black Voters Lose Enthusiasm for Stacey Abrams
In 2018, Abrams amassed a considerable level of support in her doomed bid to become Georgia’s first black female governor. She galvanized minority voters who typically do not turn out during midterm elections. It almost paid off; she came within 55,000 votes of defeating Kemp but ultimately fell short.
Four years later, in 2022, it appears something has changed. A poll conducted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed Abrams has support from 79% of African Americans. Among black men, in particular, she enjoys only 75%. These figures may seem to suggest Abrams is still getting overwhelming support from the black community, but considering almost 90% of this demographic self-identify as Democrat, this is a steep decline. Democrats and their operatives are worried that Stacey Abrams might not be able to garner the same level of support as she did in 2018.
Overall, Kemp is the clear frontrunner. The most recent RealClearPolitics average of polls has Kemp ahead of Abrams by 6.6%. This is not due to Kemp’s popularity as much as the challenge Abrams has faced in getting her own base enthused about turning out at the polls.
A former aide for the candidate told Newsweek that her difficulties arise from having a less effective organizing team. “In 2018 Abrams had 140 organizers on the ground; now she has fewer than 100,” the outlet reported. “And there are reports of slippage with Black men, a critical voting segment that Abrams needs to be a strong part of her coalition.”
“Stacey can’t win without Black and brown voters,” the aide said, adding that the candidate is especially “struggling with Black men.”
Some have surmised this is indicative of a larger issue on the left – bigger than Abrams. W. Mondale Robinson, founder of the Black Male Voter Project, summed it up nicely. “Stacey Abrams doesn’t have a Black man problem,” he explained. “The Democratic Party has a Black man problem.” Robinson also noted that this development does not necessarily mean black men are moving over to the GOP. Instead, they will likely say “a pox on both your houses” and refuse to cast their votes in November. “Black men have an alternative,” Robinson said, “and that is to sit out an election.”
Where Will Black Men Go?
If Abrams fails to win the typical percentage of black voters – especially males – it will become even more evident that support for Democrats among minority communities is slipping. Dr. Jason Nichols, a lecturer on African American studies at the University of Maryland, pointed out the issue in a recent op-ed:
“Some Black men feel they are spoken about by Democrats, rather than spoken to. George Floyd and other African American men who died at the hands of law enforcement became rallying cries for the political Left, but we saw very few Black male Democrats playing major roles in the political discourse surrounding the issue.”
While some suggest that black men and women are more likely to stay home on November 8, recent data show that a proportion are certainly moving toward the GOP ranks. The trend away from the Democratic Party shows that conservatives have a massive opportunity to begin winning over African Americans if they are willing to do the work. Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before the Democrats realize what they need to do to win back one of their most important voting blocs.
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