Early analysis of the November 8 election finds that the number of Black voters was down 11 percent from the 2012 presidential election, when for the first time in history Blacks were more likely to vote than Whites. Some political pundits have made the case that if Blacks had increased their turnout rates in states such as Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Hillary Clinton would have won the election.
This may be true, but placing the blame on African American voters is not justified. Blacks did give 88 percent of their votes to Clinton. Far more damaging to the Clinton campaign than the lower Black voter turnout rate, was the failure of the Democratic candidate to gain the support of a greater share of the much larger voting block of White women and her very low performance among White men.
More than 90 million people eligible to cast ballots did not vote in the 2016 election. As a result, only one quarter of the eligible electorate supported the Trump candidacy. With voter apathy at historical levels, pinning the Democrats’ defeat on African Americans hardly seems fair.
There is good news for African Americans from the results of the 2016 election. In January, for the first time in history there will be 50 African Americans in the U.S. Congress. With the election of Kamala Harris in California, there will be three Black U.S. senators. Forty-seven African Americans will hold seats in the House of Representatives. New Black members of the House include Val Demings and Al Lawson in Florida, Dwight Evans in Pennsylvania, Lisa Blunt Rochester in Delaware, Anthony Brown in Maryland, and Donald McEachin in Virginia.