President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden on Trump’s refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: ‘What country are we in?’ Romney: ‘Unthinkable and unacceptable’ to not commit to peaceful transition of power Two Louisville police officers shot amid Breonna Taylor grand jury protests MORE and Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden on Trump’s refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: ‘What country are we in?’ Democratic groups using Bloomberg money to launch M in Spanish language ads in Florida Harris faces pivotal moment with Supreme Court battle MORE are seeking to boost engagement with Black business owners, part of a key demographic critical for both campaigns as the election enters the home stretch.
Their efforts underscore how the economy remains just as much a key issue for Black voters as with other groups, even as national attention focuses on racial justice protests that have swept the country following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among others.
In an Economist/YouGov poll released this week, 71 percent of Black respondents said that jobs and the economy were a “very important” issue. The only topics in the poll that Black respondents identified as more important were education, civil rights and health care.
The Biden campaign has said that a Biden-Harris administration would help advance Black businesses more than another four years of the Trump administration would.
“[T]he current administration is not prioritizing the success of Black entrepreneurs,” Kamau Marshall, the Biden campaign’s director of strategic communications, told The Hill. “A Biden-Harris administration would reverse that narrative by doing the work to ensure that Black business owners in this country are provided the same opportunities for economic advancement and wealth accumulation as other groups, so they can not only recover from the current economic crisis, but come back stronger than before.”
The Trump campaign for its part has repeatedly pointed to the state of the economy before the coronavirus pandemic hit, promising a return to those numbers.
Black unemployment reached an all-time low in August 2019, at 5.4 percent. A year later amid the pandemic, it sits at 13 percent, even though the overall national unemployment rate is just over 8 percent.
“I love the Black community, and I’ve done more for the Black community than any other president, and I say with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln,” Trump told reporters Wednesday when asked about the verdict of the Taylor grand jury, which saw none of the Louisville police officers involved in the case directly charged for her death.
Biden hopes to boost Black voter turnout on Election Day, which was at a 20-year low in 2016. In states where former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic groups using Bloomberg money to launch M in Spanish language ads in Florida The Hill’s Campaign Report: Presidential polls tighten weeks out from Election Day More than 50 Latino faith leaders endorse Biden MORE narrowly lost to Trump four years ago, heightened Black voter turnout could be pivotal for Democrats.
The Biden campaign on Wednesday launched two new video ads that will air digitally and on television in battleground states that feature Black small-business owners. He also traveled to North Carolina where he held a summit with Black business owners and employees that have been hit hard by COVID-19.
Data shows that the pandemic has had an adverse effect on the small Black-owned businesses and that Black-owned businesses received disproportionately less loans from the Paycheck Protection Program established by the CARES Act in March.
For the Trump campaign, the goal is to retain the Black voters who cast their ballots for the president in 2016. Biden holds a significant lead with Black voters over Trump, though the former vice president’s lead isn’t as wide as Clinton’s.
Trump is expected to travel to Atlanta to talk about Black economic empowerment on Friday. Georgia, long considered to be a GOP stronghold, has now become a swing state, with a new New York Times-Siena College poll showing Biden and Trump tied at 45 percent. The president won Georgia by 5 percent in 2016.
All of this comes ahead of Tuesday’s first presidential debate in Cleveland, in which race and the economy will both be present topics.