The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Democratic Party owes black female voters a big ‘thank you’

Democrat Vi Lyles celebrates her victory in the Charlotte mayoral race with her granddaughters, Hailey Young, left, and Arya Alexander, on Nov. 7, 2017. (Jeff Siner/AP)
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There are many reasons Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election, but a lack of support from black women isn’t one of them.

According to exit polls, more than 90 percent of black women voted for Clinton, continuing the trend that few demographic groups are as faithful to the Democratic Party as African American women.

But after the 2016 election, the demographic’s confidence in the Democratic National Committee wasn’t as high as the party began focusing their attention on courting white working class voters.

The Washington Post’s Vanessa Williams previously reported:

“Black women have been the most loyal supporters of the Democratic Party, through thick and thin,” Avis Jones-DeWeever, an adviser to the Black Women’s Roundtable, said during September’s Congressional Black Caucus conference. She said the party has focused more on wooing back “white male voters who have not supported the Democratic Party for 50 years” rather than “watering the garden in your own back yard.”

And just days before Tuesday’s election, bombshell accusations in a new book by former DNC chair Donna Brazile seemed to reinforce these sentiments for some voters.

But despite these frustrations, there should not have been much doubt about how black women would respond on Election Day — particularly in the age of Trump.

Activists and influencers hope Tuesday’s election results will encourage party leaders to support policies that benefit black women — and not ignore them for demographics that have been less faithful to the left.

After all, support from black women was key in multiple races, including the much-watched Virginia governor’s race, where Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie, who ran on Trump-style nationalism.

And no other demographic group supported New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy at higher percentages than black women, according to exit polls.

And election night in 2017 offered something else important: black women being elected to offices.

The victors that The Fix previously reported include:

  • Yvonne Spicer, a black woman, will become the first mayor in the 317-year history of Framingham, Mass. The town voted in the spring to become a city instead of a maintaining a town government.
  • Vi Lyles will be the first black female mayor of Charlotte. She spent three decades as a city administrator before running for office.
  • Mary Parham-Copelan will become the first black mayor of Milledgeville, Ga.
  • Andrea Jenkins, the first openly transgender black woman elected to office, won her Minneapolis City Council race.

In a race for a seat on the county board in Atlantic County, N.J., first-time candidate Ashley Bennett defeated a Republican incumbent who made misogynistic comments about the Women's March. And while Keisha Lance Bottoms can’t claim a victory, the Atlanta mayoral candidate was the top recipient of votes in her race and is headed to a runoff next month.

Activist and Episcopal priest Broderick Greer tweeted how supporting black women is in the best interest of all Americans.

Linda Sarsour, national co-chair of the Women’s March, called on her followers to “trust” black women.

And following election night, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman challenged the left not to just accept the support of black women but to invest in black women.

With the support of black women being a key piece of the Democratic Party's Election Day successes, the question now is: Will the Democratic Party show its support for them?