On November 4, mail-in ballots from Detroit and Flint — two predominantly Black communities in the state of Michigan — helped Joe Biden secure Michigan’s electoral votes, edging him closer to The White House.
Last week, the Democratic presidential candidate campaigned with former President Barack Obama to encourage Michigan voters at two drive-in rallies. Obama focused his critique on President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted Black communities throughout the state. Detroit, the state’s largest city, where more than 80 percent of residents are Black, has the highest number of cases and deaths from the virus.
In 2016, President Donald Trump flipped Michigan, a “blue wall” state, and secured the state’s sixteen electoral votes — a crucial component of his victory over Hillary Clinton, who was the Democractic presidential candidate at that time. The “blue wall” — a region of states in the Eastern, Midwest, and Western parts of the nation that primarily voted for Democratic candidates — shifted their support towards Trump in the previous presidential election.
This year, Biden restored the “blue wall” because of the higher vote turnout among Black voters in Detroit, a Democratic stronghold. According to City Clerk Janice Winfrey, “53 percent to 55 percent of Detroiters had voted, compared to 48 percent in 2016,” as reported by NBC News. The Black Slate, a powerful political non-profit organization that helped elect Coleman Young, the first Black mayor of Detroit, encouraged voters to “elect candidates pledged to serve the best interests of the Detroit community.” On the organization’s Facebook page, Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris are featured on their “vote straight democratic” ticket.
Harris, the former Senator of California, delivered a powerful speech to voters in Metro Detroit on Election Day, “We vote to honor our ancestors ... we vote because everything is at stake in this election, everything," she said. "And we vote because we know there may be powerful people trying to make it difficult because they know our power. They know when we vote, things change. They know when we vote, we win.”
According to a Washington Post exit poll, Black voters strongly support Biden over Trump. More than 90 percent of Black people voted for the Democratic presidential candidate because they are the Democratic Party’s most reliable voting bloc, as evidenced by their high voter turnout for Clinton in 2016.
Before the surge of mail-in ballots from heavily concentrated Black areas like Flint and Detroit, the state of Michigan leaned towards Trump, but Black voters ensured Biden’s victory.