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Black voters motivated, but concerned about votes counting — CBS News/BET poll

Battleground Tracker: Tight race in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina
Battleground Tracker: Tight race in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina 04:58

Black voters are motivated and engaged in this election, but fewer than half are very confident their vote will be counted correctly, and more than half express some concern about potential voter intimidation at the polls. 

Black voters are an essential part of the Democratic Party's coalition, and they are overwhelmingly backing Joe Biden over President Trump in this election. But Black voters aren't uniformly excited about 2020. We find younger Black voters are less likely to be thinking about the election, and less motivated to vote than older voters. Younger Black voters are also not as enthusiastic in their support for the Democratic ticket. Despite a lower level of enthusiasm for Biden, these younger voters are largely in agreement with their older counterparts in at least one area — at least nine in 10 say they would never consider voting for Mr. Trump.


Black men and Black women are voting for Biden in large numbers, with women (92%) just slightly more likely.


While Black voters are backing Biden in big numbers, how strongly they support him, and their motivation for doing so, differs by age. Half of Black seniors say they're supporting Biden mainly because they like him, but that drops to 28% among Black Biden voters under 30. More young Black voters say their support for Biden is mainly to oppose Mr. Trump. Black voters are mostly happy with Biden's selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate, but older Black voters are more enthusiastic about this choice than younger voters are.


Black support for Biden can be explained in part by the way voters feel Mr. Trump treats Black people. Eight in 10 Black voters feel that Mr. Trump, as president, works against Black people, and that he favors White people. On the other hand, they feel that if Biden became president he would favor or be neutral towards both Black and White people.


Fewer than half of Black voters are very confident their vote will be recorded and counted properly, although most are at least somewhat confident. And it's younger Black voters who are markedly less confident than older voters. Just a quarter of Black voters ages 18 to 29 are very confident their vote will be counted correctly. Younger Black votes are also less likely to say the process of registering and voting in their state is very easy.


There is some concern about voter intimidation. About half of Black voters are at least somewhat concerned that there will be attempts to influence the election process at voting locations in their area through intimidation and threats of violence. Here too, younger Black voters express more concern than older Black voters.


Despite some concern about intimidation, more than six in 10 black voters who plan to vote in person — either before or on Election Day — say they are willing to wait in line as long as it takes to vote. 

Like a lot of voters this year, most Black voters are planning to cast their vote before Election Day. One in five reporting having already done so. Black voters are roughly split on which method they will use to vote early: 41% say they'll vote by mail, while 36% say they'll vote early in person. 


After a summer of demonstrations concerning the treatment of Black people by police, Black voters feel these protests will lead to progress, but not overwhelmingly so. Fifty-five percent believe these protests will ultimately be effective in changing police treatment of Black people, but 45% don't think they will. 

On the Black Lives Matter movement more specifically, most Black voters believe it will ultimately lead to at least some progress toward ending discrimination, but just one in five think it will have a lot of impact. This is an area where younger Black voters express more optimism than older voters.


Like many voters, the coronavirus is a top concern for Black voters, with most saying the impact has been felt more in Black communities than White communities, and that they personally have been financially impacted by the outbreak. More than eight in 10 are concerned that they or a close family member will get the coronavirus.


The coronavirus and health care are the top factors for Black voters in their vote for president this year, followed by the economy. A smaller majority of Black voters overall cite the recent protests as a major factor, and it is more important for younger Black voters.

And seven in 10 say there is not enough attention being given to the issue of discrimination right now. 


More on voting and engagement

Not everyone gets a chance to vote. When those who don't always get a chance to vote are asked why that is, they say, "sometimes I think the whole system is bad," followed by "it wouldn't always change things" and "it's just not something that always appeals to me" as top reasons why. 

Black voters are mixed on how politics has made them feel over the last year. Just over four in 10 say it has made them more motivated to get involved, but nearly as many say politics has made them want to tune out and watch something else.

And it is younger Black voters who are more inclined to feel like tuning out and to say they feel like there's nothing else they can do.

This survey was conducted by YouGov on behalf of BET and CBS News using a nationally representative sample of 1,146 Black registered voters interviewed online between October 13-19, 2020. The margin of error among registered voters is ±3.4 percentage points.


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