President Biden is trying to stitch back together his 2020 coalition as he goes into the general election with a much more fractured Democratic Party than four years ago.
Biden has focused on union workers and Black voters in pivotal states of Michigan and Nevada in recent days, underscoring his need to rebuild and solidify the coalition that put him in the White House. His outreach comes as former President Trump, his likely November opponent, has looked to eat into Biden’s margins with those voters.
“I think it’s fair to say that the Biden coalition dispersed after the election in 2020. It was a very unique combination for a unique time,” said Ivan Zapien, a former Democratic National Committee official. “The elements for it coming back together are there, but it will not come together alone. It needs to be built block by block, and I think you are seeing the Biden campaign doing just that.”
White House aides acknowledge Biden will need to put together a diverse coalition to carry Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania, all of which he won in 2020, and most of which he would need to win in November to keep the presidency. That coalition includes minority voters, union voters, young voters and moderates who are opposed to Trump.
In 2020, Biden won 87 percent of Black voters, 65 percent of Latino voters, 60 percent of voters under the age of 30 and 56 percent of voters living in union households, according to exit polls.
The Biden campaign has launched ads specifically targeting Latino voters and voters in swing states, and Biden’s travel this year has largely been in service of solidifying his support with key blocs. Biden held a Black History Month event at the White House on Tuesday and made sure to thank Black voters for electing him, adding, “Folks, we will be back here next year.”
“I am president and Kamala is vice president because of you. You’ve had my back, and we’ve had your back and we always will,” Biden said at the event.
Last week, he traveled to suburban Detroit, where he mingled with customers at a Black-owned business and later spoke to United Auto Workers members at a union hall just days after the labor group endorsed him.
Biden visited with members of the Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas during a swing through Nevada on Monday to congratulate them on successful contract negotiations.
And Vice President Harris spent time in South Carolina in recent days, where the Biden campaign sought to demonstrate its strength with Black voters through a resounding victory in the Democratic primary Saturday.
As a rallying cry, Biden has focused on warning against another four years of Trump. He asked voters in a speech Sunday in Las Vegas to “imagine the nightmare if Donald Trump is reelected,” and he focused on Trump’s record and rhetoric on veterans, gun violence and health care — all issues that Biden wants to appeal to his base on.
Democrats say Biden’s focus on Black voters and the labor vote contrasts with Trump’s priorities.
“President Biden and Vice President Harris giving real attention to Black voters and union workers isn’t just encouraging — it’s a stark contrast to the neglect seen from Trump and the GOP. Yes, Democrats have more ground to cover, but we’re on the right track, showing up and standing up for the backbone of our nation,” said Michael Starr Hopkins, a Democratic strategist.
“Meanwhile, Trump and his Republican enablers continue to divide and distract, ignoring the very communities that keep America running. This isn’t just about making a statement; it’s about making a difference,” he said.
Polling on Biden’s support from Black Americans has been mixed.
A USA Today/Suffolk University poll in January found Biden’s support from Black voters fell to 63 percent, compared to the 87 percent he had in 2020. But, a new NBC News poll found Black voters support Biden over Trump by 75 percent to 16 percent.
Meanwhile, Biden, who has touted that he is the most pro-union president in U.S. history, has been endorsed by a number of unions, including the United Auto Workers and the nation’s largest federations of unions, the AFL-CIO.
Trump last week met with Teamsters leadership in Washington, D.C., to try to secure their endorsement and compete with Biden’s support from Big Labor.
Republicans say Trump would only need to make marginal gains with parts of Biden’s coalition to flip what is expected to be a close general election.
“Mr. Biden is seeing losses in core constituencies of the tenuous coalition he scaffolded together in 2020 as Mr. Trump clocks impressive numbers among African American and especially Hispanic voters — particularly men — in many head-to-head polls against Mr. Biden. As with female voters in 2016, Mr. Trump need not win a majority of minority voters to be elected president so much as eat into Mr. Biden’s margins,” former senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway wrote in a New York Times op-ed.
The Democratic base has also taken a hit, as Biden faces pushback from the left on issues ranging from the war in the Middle East to immigration.
Support from Arab Americans for Biden has plummeted since October, when the war started, and protests have followed him across the country for months over his pro-Israel stance. Some Democrats have called on him to back a cease-fire, while the White House maintains that one would only help Hamas.
And Biden’s embrace of a bipartisan immigration bill that would crack down on the flow of migrants at the border has drawn rebukes from some progressives.
“The Democratic Party has its debates, especially on big issues like Israel and immigration. It shows we’re a party that really thinks about tough questions. We have our differences, but at least we’re working on them together,” Hopkins said.
He added, “That’s how we make progress, by facing challenges, not ignoring them. Trump just keeps pushing people apart instead of solving problems.”
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