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The Partisan, Gender and Generational Differences Among Black Voters Heading Into Election Day



Because most national and state polls include only a small number of Black voters, we rarely get the opportunity to take a detailed look at how preferences and opinions vary within the Black community. Too often, the national political discourse never gets beyond “the Black vote,” full stop.

But this year, at least four different groups — the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape polling initiative, Morning Consult, the African American Research Collaborative and HIT Strategies — are conducting surveys with bigger samples of Black Americans in the run-up to the 2020 election. And issues of race and systemic racism have dominated stretches of the campaign.

So, with just about 40 days until Nov. 3, we took a detailed look at where Black voters stand. Here’s what we learned:

Candidates are getting similar levels of Black support to past nominees

According to recent Democracy Fund polling, 83 percent of likely Black voters favored former Vice President Joe Biden, 10 percent favored President Trump, and 8 percent said they didn’t know which candidate they will back.1 Recent Morning Consult polling found almost exactly the same thing — 84 percent for Biden, 10 percent for Trump and 7 percent undecided or favoring a third-party candidate.

So it seems likely that Biden will end up winning close to 90 percent of Black voters, with Trump winning around 10 percent, as experts on Black voting say undecided Black voters tend to consolidate to the Democrat as we get closer to Election Day. If that happens again this year, Biden’s roughly 80-point margin over Trump among Black voters would be fairly typical for U.S. presidential elections.

It’s interesting that Trump appears to be turning some white people against him in part because of his controversial racial comments but he hasn’t really lost any Black support (and he might even do a bit better this year than he did in 2016 with Black voters). Of course, that’s largely because he had so little Black support to begin with — there isn’t much room to do worse. But there is a core bloc of about 10 percent of Black Americans who are Republican-leaning and they appear to be sticking with Trump. Indeed, the 2020 numbers suggest that it might be hard for Democrats to replicate the 90-point margin among Black voters they had in 2008 and 2012 with Barack Obama running as the first-ever Black major party presidential nominee.

Protests and the Harris pick didn’t have big, long-lasting effects

Neither the protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May nor the selection of Kamala Harris, the first Black and Asian American vice-presidential nominee, resulted in big and durable boosts in Biden’s Black support.

That’s not to say there’s been absolutely no movement in the Biden-Trump race among Black voters. Biden’s biggest lead among Black voters came throughout June, following Floyd’s death and the early days of the protests against police brutality. That makes sense: Scholars have found that because of past experiences with discrimination and prejudice, Black people are more likely than other racial and ethnic groups to view their fate in a collective way. The Floyd killing and the weeks of intense national discussion about systemic racism against Black people, particularly their treatment by police, likely increased feelings of collective identity among Black Americans, given the renewed salience of issues surrounding policing in Black communities.

The selection of Harris as the first-ever Black woman on a major-party presidential ticket didn’t really change Biden’s standing among Black voters at all, according to the Nationscape polling. That’s not surprising or necessarily a sign that she was a bad pick. First of all, Biden didn’t have much room to grow in terms of his Black vote share — he was already in the 80s by mid-August. Also, Harris’s selection probably wasn’t as much about boosting Biden with Black voters this November in the first place. The pick addressed other goals for the former vice president, such as making the Democratic ticket more balanced in terms of age, gender and race; recognizing Black women for long one of most Democractic-leaning demographic groups in the electorate; and recognizing Black voters overall for their role in boosting Biden during this year’s Democratic primary.

There is a substantial gender gap

According to the Nationscape survey of likely voters from Aug. 27 to Sept. 9, Biden led Trump among Black men 76 percent to 17 percent; Biden led among Black women 87 percent to 4 percent. This is also pretty standard. Black men, like men in most other demographic groups, tend to be more Republican-leaning than their female counterparts. Trump won about 14 percent of the Black male vote in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center, while his support from Black women was virtually nonexistent.

But this gender gap is favorable to Biden in an important way — Black women tend to vote at higher rates than Black men (64 percent of voting-eligible Black women turned out in 2016, compared to 54 percent of Black men). Women generally vote more than men, but the turnout gap between Black women and Black men has long been larger than that between white women and white men.

Black youth are more skeptical of Biden, the Democratic Party

Among white likely voters, Biden’s best margins are with the youngest cohort (those 18 to 29 years old). But among Black likely voters, Biden’s biggest margins are among older cohorts.

And when you conduct polling among all Black adults (as opposed to just likely voters), as HIT, AARC and Democracy Fund have all done this year, this age gap is even wider. Among all respondents, older Black people support Biden by a wide margin while younger Black people are more supportive of Trump. Moreover, younger Black respondents are much more inclined than older Black respondents to say that they don’t know which candidate they’ll support (which may explain at least somewhat why they indicated that they are unlikely to vote in the race).

The polling by both HIT and AARC in particular tell a fairly clear story: Older Black people are more clearly partisan Democrats than younger Black people, both viewing the Democratic Party and its leaders much more favorably than younger Black people and viewing the GOP with more disdain than younger Black people. Among Black registered voters age 50 and older, 75 percent said they thought congressional Democrats were doing a good job, compared to just 22 percent who thought congressional Democrats were doing a poor job, according to a HIT survey conducted in June. But among Black voters under age 50, only about half (54 percent) approved of congressional Democrats, while 36 percent disapproved. Black voters under 50 (57 percent) were more likely than those 50 and over (40 percent) to agree with the statement, “The Democratic Party takes Black people for granted,” according to HIT polling.

Among Black people over 65, 77 percent had a favorable view of Harris and just 10 percent viewed her unfavorably, according to HIT polling conducted in late August and early September (after her selection as Biden’s running mate). Among Black people ages 25 to 34, 28 percent viewed her favorably and 44 percent unfavorably. (The rest were neutral or didn’t know.)

Similarly, in AARC polling, older Black Americans express more anti-Trump views and more pro-Democratic Party views on a number of measures than their younger counterparts. They also seem more enthusiastic to vote, in part because they seem to view voting as part of lifting up the broader Black community.

The divide between older and younger Black voters

Share of Black voters who hold the following positions or agree with the given statements

position 18-29 60+ Overall
Trump is a racist 79% 90% 84%
Trump is incompetent 74 90 79
I vote to support the Black community * 54 71 63
Democratic Party is “welcoming” to Black Americans 47 76 61
Trust congressional Democrats to “do what is best” for Black people 43 73 57
I do not always like Trump’s policies, but I like the way he shows strength and defies the establishment. 35 10 30
Definitely motivated to vote 29 78 55
Trust congressional Republicans to do “what is best” for Black people 29 8 21
GOP is “welcoming” to Black Americans 28 7 22
I don’t vote because it doesn’t make a difference * 21 2 14

* Share of voters who said they “agree strongly” with the statement.

Survey was conducted online July 1-9 in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin on behalf of the American University Black Swing Voter Project.

Source: African American Research Collaborative Poll

“Unlike their elders, who came up with fresh memories of civil rights activism, young folks aren’t willing to tolerate voting for the ‘lesser of two evils.’ They told us they would just as soon stay home,” said Sam Fulwood, a fellow at American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, who recently conducted focus groups with young Black voters as part of a research project.

In an interview, Terrance Woodbury of HIT described younger Black voters as having “systemic cynicism” towards institutions like the Democratic Party.

“There is a level of disenfranchisement and disengagement,” he added. Woodbury also argued that some of Trump’s messages have resonated with younger Black voters in particular. In focus groups, according to Woodbury, younger Black voters often mention the criminal justice reform bill that the president signed into law, his support for increased funding for historically Black colleges and the low Black unemployment rate before the coronavirus outbreak.

These differing views among Black Americans may not just be about age. When looking at all Black respondents (not just likely voters), Biden had more support among Black voters who were college-educated and those with higher-incomes, according to the Nationscape data. So it might be that more established Black people (older, more educated, higher income) are more satisfied with the Democratic Party than other Black Americans.

We’re not sure this is a huge problem for Biden, because it doesn’t appear that Trump is going to win a big share of younger Black voters, those without degrees or those with lower incomes. But a lack of enthusiasm for Biden might show up in terms of turnout.

It’s really hard to judge turnout at this stage

But the safe bet is that Black turnout won’t match white turnout, as in previous years (the exceptions being 2008 and 2012).

If Black Americans are really galvanized by the protests, Harris on the ticket or hatred of Trump, their voting rates will probably be the biggest indicator. In 2012, not only did the Black voting rate reach a record high of 67 percent, but Black voting rates were equal to white voting rates. In 2016 and then 2018, Black voting rates were a few percentage points behind white ones, as is the historical pattern.

It is really hard to gauge Black turnout from the polls we have now. Even when Obama was on the ballot, younger Black people voted at much lower rates than older ones — but across all ethnicities and races, younger people vote at lower rates. So the surveys above noting that younger Black people are not as supportive of Biden and Democrats don’t themselves predict lower turnout.

That said, the evidence we have indicates that super-high Black turnout was related to the chance to elect and then reelect the first-ever Black president. That is not happening in 2020, so it’s more likely that Black voting patterns will resemble 2004 or 2016 than 2008.


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Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home



On a recent Thursday in Hartford, Conn., Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg pondered the dichotomy of wanting to reach MLS Cup on Dec. 12, but also desiring to see his family again. Meanwhile, Jim Liston, the team’s director of sports science, was planning a trip to Lowe’s to buy 15 garbage cans so players could have an ice bath after training. As for manager Greg Vanney, he was fretting about his team’s health and the lack of practice time their schedule was affording.

Such is the life of a team as it attempts to not only navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been forced to do it away from home.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, TFC — like the league’s other two Canadian teams, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — set up a “home” base in the U.S. for the remainder of the season; Toronto were stationed in Hartford. (Vancouver Whitecaps took roost in Portland, ground-sharing with Timbers, while Montreal Impact split use of New York Red Bulls’ facilities in Harrison, N.J.) This was on top of nearly every team spending nearly a month inside a bubble back in July at the MLS is Back Tournament outside Orlando, Florida.

The Reds spent about seven weeks back in Toronto as they played a series of matches against Canadian teams. In mid-September, the remainder of the regular season — and the temporary move to Hartford — beckoned. The vagabond nature of the campaign is what led Liston to joke that he was willing to discuss “whatever five seasons” the team has been through so far. But for Vanney and the players, the campaign has required a special kind of focus.

“A lot of what we’ve done here, and what we try to preach here is just control the controllables, and don’t get too drawn into the things you can’t,” Vanney told ESPN. “Roll with it, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.”

Stream FC Daily on ESPN+
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Toronto has largely succeeded in spite of its odyssey. While there was disappointment at missing out on the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union, TFC went 7-3-2 during its Hartford sojourn and finished with the second-best record in the league. But the challenges have still been immense. Simply being out of one’s home environment is difficult enough, but the time spent away from family and loved ones weighs heavy on the psyche, even as Vanney has given players the occasional trip back to Toronto — under quarantine — to reconnect with loved ones.

“It’s just very different, very challenging and emotionally exhausting,” Westberg said of his experience while based in Hartford.

Westberg has arguably had it tougher than most. The TFC goalkeeper is married with four children, including a baby girl who was born in June. For that reason, Westberg and his wife, Ania, made the decision at the end of September that it would be better for her and their kids to head back to his native France so they could be surrounded by family. Westberg called it “the least bad decision,” but there are difficulties nonetheless.

“I’m a very even person, and this year has challenged me a lot,” he said. “I’m still pretty even, but I keep a lot to myself and for sure there’s some difficult days, seeing your family [struggle] from your absence.”

The inability to be home has affected the players and staff in other ways. In Toronto, there are ways of disengaging from the game. Being with friends, loved ones or even in familiar surroundings can be the best medicine in terms of forgetting a bad game or training session. But in Hartford, at the team’s hotel, that escape is nearly impossible even as players try to distract themselves by reading or taking online classes.

“You don’t really unplug,” Westberg said. “You FaceTime family, or this or that, but it’s too short. You’re 100 percent focused on your soccer, and your whole day basically relies on being ready for whatever soccer activity that you have next, whether it’s practice or game. It’s good for your physique, it’s optimal for the way you eat and the way you [train]. But mentally, you’re not as fresh as your body.”

That isn’t to say there are only negatives to the separation. There is also an us-against-the-world mentality that Toronto has adopted, given that their players and personnel are experiencing the season in a way that is vastly different than most other teams. The team staff has done what it can to make their surroundings a home away from home, whether it’s personalizing the locker rooms at Rentschler Field or having hotel staff brand the surroundings in TFC colors. The hotel went so far as to bring in a barista who could consistently give the players their coffee fix. Supporters groups have even sent down banners in a bid to convey the fact that the players are remembered.

The care that TFC takes for players has extended to families back home, with the club supplying meals to loved ones three times a week.

On the logistical side, Liston made sure that one of the gyms used at MLS is Back was brought to TFC’s hotel in Hartford, and he remarked that the food at the hotel is “arguably the best we’ve ever had on the road.”

There have also been efforts to create new routines. Assistant coach Jason Bent, aka DJ Soops, has been in charge of the pregame music selection for the past 18 months — no easy feat for a squad that has a considerable international presence. In Hartford, Bent has set aside Thursday nights to spin music in one area of the hotel. He’ll even go live on Instagram or Twitch for those who prefer to relax in their rooms.

“[We] opened it to players and staff and basically anyone that’s part of our bubble to come relax, listen to music and just enjoy each other’s company,” Bent said. “I enjoy making people happy so if it’s helping everyone even in the slightest, I have no problem arranging the set and spinning.”

For Vanney, the pandemic and operating outside of the team’s home market has meant any number of challenges. He said the team has used three different training facilities in Hartford, with varying field conditions. He recognizes that the trips home are vital for the mental health of his players and staff, but any breaks also mean less time spent on the practice field. The compressed schedule, which at times involved games every three or four days, has had an impact as well. Even the best-laid plans in terms of squad rotation were impacted as minor injuries began popping up.

“We end up with a lot of guys in different positions because they need special kinds of treatment or care to help them get fit and back to health,” Vanney said. “So it ends up being a lot of different things kind of going on all at once, and that’s been the challenge of it.”

Recovery from matches has been complicated by the fact that TFC doesn’t have access to the same level of facilities that it does at home — hence Liston’s emergency trip to Lowe’s to fashion impromptu ice baths for the players. Then there are the different ways the players occupy themselves on the road as compared to home, especially amid the pandemic.

“There’s really no life outside of the hotel,” Liston said. “[At home], you may go walk the dog in the afternoon or go for a walk with your wife or friend or girlfriend or family and you’re out and about. The recommendation [here] is to kind of stay put. So you’ve got a really active population and pro athletes, who we’re asking them to be sedentary the rest of the time, kind of stay in the hotel from a COVID and safety standpoint. That’s not optimal for recovery either.”

There are also the creature comforts of home that are no longer available on the road, which can impact sleep.

“Sleep is the number one tool for recovery, and that’s definitely been a challenge,” Liston said. “We do well-being questionnaires and the scores on quality of sleep, and hours of sleep, just drop.”



Tom Barlow and Brian White seal Toronto’s fate in a 2-1 win for New York Red Bulls. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

Another change has been same-day travel, which has drawn mixed reactions from the TFC players and staff. Vanney and Westberg are generally in favor, saying it reminds them of when they each played in France. Flying back the same night also means a training day isn’t lost. Liston has a different perspective in that he prefers arriving the day before, and then leaving the same day.

“I think [same-day travel] makes for a really long day,” he said. “And there’s definitely a negative impact on performance, taking three bus rides and a plane ride before your game. You’re getting home — it can be 12:30, but it could also be 1:30 in the morning, and that’s where you know our well-being scores and sleep hours and quality just disappear. When you have so many games in succession, you can’t make up the sleep.”

With the playoffs set to begin for TFC on Nov. 24, the end is in sight, even as it makes for a complex — and even conflicting — set of emotions.

“This is the tricky part. I miss them a lot,” Westberg said of his family. “But in a way I want to see them as [late] as possible in December, because obviously, there’s this idea that we want to do well in the playoffs and we want to keep going. TFC has a history of setting high standards and high expectations. It’s a heavy load to carry but also an exciting one.”

Win or lose, it’s a season they’ll never forget.


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Bettman: NHL is mulling temporary realignment



The NHL is considering a temporary realignment of its teams for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bettman said Tuesday that restrictions on travel across the Canadian border, as well as “limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states” within the United States, could mean the NHL creates a more regionalized alignment for its upcoming season.

“As it relates to the travel issue, which is obviously the great unknown, we may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense. It may be that we’re better off — particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating — keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said during a 2020 Paley International Council Summit panel with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB.

The NHL board of governors has a meeting scheduled for Thursday which will provide a progress report and possible recommendations for a season format, based on talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. The target date for starting next season remains Jan. 1.

Bettman said the league is considering a few scheduling options for the 2020-21 season. Something that’s off the table: playing the entire season in the kind of bubbles the NHL had in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, to complete last season. But Bettman said teams opening in their own arenas is a possibility, along with a modified bubble.

“We are exploring the possibility of playing in our own buildings without fans [or] fans where you can, which is going to be an arena-by-arena issue. But we’re also exploring the possibility of a hub. You’ll come in. You’ll play for 10 to 12 days. You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need,” he said.

Bettman also indicated that the NHL is exploring “a hybrid, where some teams are in a bubble, some teams play at home and you move in and out.”

The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved a deal with the players’ union that sets the stage for a season that will open on Dec. 22 and with a reduced schedule of 72 games. Silver said that the commissioners are in communication on COVID-19-related issues, especially the NBA and the NHL, since the two leagues’ teams share arenas and, in some cases, team owners.

Silver said he senses that the NBA will have fans in many of its buildings this season.

“We’re probably going to start one way, where we’re maybe a little bit more conservative than many of the jurisdictions allow,” he said. “What we’ve said to our teams is that we’ll continue to work with public health authorities. Arena issues are different than outdoor stadium issues. There will be certain standards for air filtration and air circulation. There may be a different standard for a suite than there will be for fans spaced in seats.”

Silver said there will be standardized protocols that are consistent from arena to arena, such as proximity between players and fans: “In certain cases, for seats near the floor, we’re going to be putting in testing programs, where fans will certify that they’ve been tested — some within 48 hours, some within day of game.” While Silver supported a continued expansion of the NBA postseason through its play-in tournament, Bettman said that he’s not in favor of expanded playoffs or “playing with the fundamentals of the game.” The NHL had 24 teams in its postseason last summer.


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The Battleground States Where We’ve Seen Some Movement In The Polls



With apologies to The Raconteurs, the presidential race continues to be “steady as she goes,” with little sign of tightening despite a plethora of new polls. FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 shot at winning the election, while President Trump has just an 11 in 100 chance. This makes Biden the favorite, but still leaves open a narrow path to victory for Trump, for whom a reelection win would be surprising — but not utterly shocking.

At the same time, we also have fewer polls from live-caller surveys, which have historically been more accurate and have shown slightly better numbers for Biden, than polls that use other methodologies, such as polls conducted primarily online or through automated telephone calls. Nevertheless, while the overall picture has shifted only a little in recent days, a few battleground states have seen at least some movement in their polls, which has slightly altered the odds Biden or Trump wins in each of those places.

What election stories need to get more coverage | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast


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