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Poll: Black woman running mate favored for Vice President Biden

picture of Harris and Abrams
New Northwestern survey shows Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams as top choices.

African-Americans say they will be more enthusiastic about voting for Joe Biden if he selects an African-American woman as his running mate for vice president, according to a new survey conducted by Northwestern University’s Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy (CSDD).

“We expected to find this to be the case among African-American women — the Democratic Party’s most reliable voting bloc — but we also found that this trend holds for African-American men as well,” said Alvin Tillery, director of the CSDD and an associate professor of political science at Northwestern.

The survey, conducted by Cloud Research/Prime Panels on behalf of the CSDD, showed that California Sen. Kamala Harris and former Georgia legislator Stacey Abrams are seen as favorites for the nomination.

The online survey, conducted May 27-31, interviewed more than 2,600 African-Americans about their views of the 2020 presidential election and their preferences for Biden to select an African-American woman as his running mate. 

Among the findings:

  • 57% of the respondents said that they would be more enthusiastic about voting for Biden if he picks an African-American woman to be his running mate.  

  • 29% of the respondents prefer Harris for Biden’s running mate; 28% prefer Abrams; 24% prefer former national security advisor Susan Rice, and 20% prefer U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Florida

  • 59% of the African-American women who responded to the survey said that they would be more enthusiastic about voting for Biden if he picks an African-American woman to be his running mate.  

  • 50% of African-American women respondents said that they are more likely to campaign for Biden if he selects an African-American woman versus 40% who said that they will campaign for him regardless of the outcome of the vice presidential search process.

“While it is true that the margins between the overall enthusiasm for Biden and the enthusiasm for him when a hypothetical African-American woman is added to his ticket are small, they are precisely the kinds of margins that can cost Vice President Biden an election in a highly polarized partisan environment,” Tillery said. 

“The reality for Biden is that he needs to do everything that he can to maximize African-American turnout and selecting an African-American woman as his running mate looks like a big step in that direction.”

The gender distribution of the sample was 51% female, 49% male. And 71% of the respondents voted in the 2016 presidential election. In addition, 68% of the respondents are affiliates of the Democratic Party; 19% consider themselves to be political independents; 7% affiliate with the Republican Party. 

“Black women are successful in mobilizing others to support Democratic candidates,” said Nadia Brown, associate professor of political science and African American studies at Purdue University, who collaborated with Tillery. “As such, it is imperative that the Biden campaign listen to his most enthusiastic base as he makes his choice for the vice presidential nominee.”

See full survey here

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