When it comes to our democracy, the message matters

When it comes to our democracy, the message matters

By Errin Haines

Originally published by The 19th

This column first appeared in The Amendment, a biweekly newsletter by Errin Haines, The 19th’s editor-at-large. Subscribe today to get early access to future analysis.

Identity politics are a reality of elections. So why aren’t the presidential candidates in either party better at talking about race — particularly to the Black voters who are already such a focus of the 2024 campaign?

On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump is again returning to a racial playbook that exploits and weaponizes stereotypes. His lone rival, Nikki Haley, largely avoids discussing identity — despite being the only woman and person of color still standing in the contest.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are working to shore up Black support headed into November. But while they are effective at responding to racist rhetoric, their message to Black voters — a key constituency in their reelection victory strategy — isn’t yet resonating.

“Whenever there’s an election, there’s this drumbeat of attention on Black voters and the sort of expectation that Black voters will save democracy,” said Brown University political scientist Juliet Hooker. “That doesn’t necessarily translate into attention to the things Black voters care about, so there’s a kind of disconnect there.”

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