Black voters enthusiastically back Joe Biden, but age gaps exist in his firewall

Linley SandersData Journalist
October 26, 2020, 2:32 PM UTC

Black voters are highly motivated to vote in the November election — and a strong majority (86%) intend to support Democratic nominee Joe Biden, according to a CBS News/BET Poll conducted by YouGov. 

The former vice president performs less well among younger Black voters, however. While nine in ten likely Black voters aged 65 and above plan on casting their ballot for the Democrat, this falls to 75% among likely Black voters between 18-to 29 years old.

The Democratic nominee has depended heavily on Black voters to support his path to the White House. Biden clenched his party’s nomination only after his campaign promised that South Carolina — where the majority of the state’s Democratic electorate is Black — would be his “firewall” after failing to rise to the top in earlier primary states.  

But his candidacy has not come without criticism that Biden takes Black voters for granted — an accusation that came to a head with his radio remark, "If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” The campaign has sought to emphasize that it values Black Americans and voters, but the CBS News/BET Poll reveals that younger Black likely voters are less enthusiastic than older voters about supporting Biden. 

Just two in five (42%) Black likely voters between 18-to 29-years old are “very enthusiastic” about voting for Biden, compared to 63% of 30-to 44-year-olds. About seven in 10 (69%) 45-to 64-year-olds and 79% of Black likely voters who are 65 and older are very excited to cast their ballot for the Democrat. 

The results also show that younger Black likely voters who intend to vote for Biden aren’t so much backing the Democrat as they are opposing Trump. Among 18-to 29-year-olds, just 28% say their motivation was “mainly because I like Joe Biden”, compared to 48% who say it is "mainly to oppose Donald Trump”.

These figures increase and decrease respectively as respondent ages rise. At the other end of the age range, 50% of those aged 65 and above say they’re voting for the former VP for pro-Biden reasons, versus 25% doing so for anti-Trump reasons. 

Related: Most early voters say the process was easy 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this CBS News/BET Poll

Methodology: This survey was conducted by YouGov on behalf of BET and CBS News using a nationally representative sample of 1,146 Black registered voters interviewed online between October 13-19, 2020. The margin of error among registered voters is ±3.4 percentage points.

Image: Getty