Biden returns to Philadelphia to court Black voters

By Thomson Reuters May 29, 2024 | 5:08 AM

By Jarrett Renshaw

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – President Joe Biden will unveil a new coalition in Philadelphia on Wednesday to court Black voters, a critical voting bloc that is showing signs of weakness for Democrats ahead of the November election.

Black voters have historically turned out for Biden and Democrats, but polls show they could be less supportive of him this year while their support for his rival Donald Trump in national and state polls has been surprisingly high for a Republican.

Democrats have long banked on strong showings in Philadelphia — and more recently, its suburbs — to offset weakness in more conservative parts of Pennsylvania, a closely divided state that Biden narrowly won in 2020. The campaign’s concern is not that the city’s Black voters will shift toward Trump, but that too many of them may sit out the election.

Biden is slated to speak at Girard College, a historic boarding school founded to serve poor, white orphan boys that desegregated in 1968, following a 14-year struggle by civil rights activists.

He will be joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and several local and national high-profile Black Democrats, including Maryland Governor Wes Moore and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Steven Horsford, of Nevada.

The event will officially launch Black Voters for Biden-Harris, the campaign said.

Earlier this month, Trump held a rally in New York City’s South Bronx neighborhood as part of his effort to exploit Biden’s weakening support among Hispanic and Black voters.

It will be Biden’s third trip to Philadelphia — and sixth to Pennsylvania — this year, continuing a deep focus on the swing state where polling shows he narrowly trails Trump.

In Pennsylvania, Biden is doing slightly worse with Black voters than four years ago, though he still wins the vast majority, according to a New York Times/Philadelphia Inquirer/Siena College survey released last week.

He was the choice of 69% of Black voters now, compared with 79% in June 2020.

Trump was ahead in the state overall in the most recent poll.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Leslie Adler)