Democrats Outperformed Expectations in Midterms Despite Falling Black Turnout

Black voter turnout fell in the 2022 midterms but did not seem to have significantly hurt Democrats in competitive races, The New York Times reports.

Though conclusive data will not be available for months, an analysis by the Times found that the Black share of the vote fell to its lowest level since 2006 this year.

The final numbers in Georgia and North Carolina already show that it was the case in those states.

Declining Black turnout has been a concern for Democrats since former President Barack Obama left office.

It remains unclear whether the trend is a return to pre-Obama norms or whether Black voters are shifting away from the party.

Effect muted:

Despite the trend, Democrats still outperformed expectations in the midterms, holding on to the Senate and only losing about a handful of competitive House races.

Outside of the Wisconsin Senate race, where incumbent Ron Johnson eked out a win over Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, “it’s hard to identify a high-profile election where Democrats might have prevailed if the Black share of the electorate had stayed at 2014 or 2018 levels,” wrote The New York Times’ Nate Cohn.

The Wisconsin decline was particularly significant though as Barnes lost by just 26,718 votes, or one percentage point.

In Milwaukee alone, the Democratic margin fell by more than 27,000 votes.

National trend:

In states where racial data is available — Georgia, North Carolina, and Louisiana — Black turnout fell to its lowest level since 2006. In North Carolina, for example, just 43% of registered Black voters turned out, compared to 59% of white voters.

In Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit, turnout fell 10 to 12 percent below 2018 levels even as turnout increased across Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.


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