Internet InfoMedia thanksgiving with the run up are black voters leaving democrats behind

Anna Foley and

Listen to ‘The Run-Up’: Thanksgiving With the Herndons

Polls suggest Black voters might be turning away from Democrats. So we convened a very special Thanksgiving focus group to try and understand why.

The change was so remarkable that it almost seemed like a mistake: In a poll of residents in battleground states by The New York Times and Siena College this fall, 22 percent of Black voters said they would support former president Donald Trump over President Biden in a hypothetical 2024 matchup.

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“There’s a thought that, you know, like Black people are not Republicans. That’s just the bottom line. And Republicans are for the rich people.”

Pashal Mabry

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“We vote because that’s what we’re supposed to do. But then when you see the numbers, it’s almost disheartening. It’s like we’re once again like the bedrock having to put the weight on, and I want everybody to do it.”

Shanell Bowden

Mr. Trump carried 8 percent of the Black vote in 2020.

Index cards with handwritten political questions sit on a table beside soda cans, napkins and a plate containing the remains of a meal.
Astead Herndon came to his childhood home, with colleagues and microphones in tow, to do the one thing you’re not traditionally supposed to do on Thanksgiving: Talk politics at the dinner table.

It is just one poll, of course, but it follows the 2022 midterm elections, in which turnout among Black voters was one of the weakest points for the Democrats.

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“I feel like the Democratic Party needs to train young people, educate them on this whole process. I think you’ll get a better understanding because people – we want to know. We want to know. We’re not afraid to learn.”

Christopher Hodges

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“Unfortunately, sometimes our government, whether it’s Democrat or Republican, we don’t take care of home base.”

Reginald Robinson

So what is really going on? How worried should Democrats be about the erosion of support among Black voters?

Angelica Herndon’s early Thanksgiving dessert spread.

“The Run-Up” is in a particularly good position to try and answer those questions. We convened a focus group — a very special, one-time only focus group in the childhood home of Astead W. Herndon, who hosts “The Run-Up.”

For the wide-ranging discussion, he gathered family members, parishioners from his father’s church, community members and people he grew up with, all of whom largely leaned Democratic, but were clear about the ways in which the party had let them down.

The conversations were anchored in questions about Black voters and the Democratic Party, but also covered the apparent appeal of Mr. Trump to Black men specifically.

“Oftentimes, we’re that extra whatever percentage that will take that particular candidate over the top to win,” Endla Thornton said, discussing the ways in which the Democratic Party relies on Black women voters.
Pastor Michael Richardson and Anastasia Richardson were among those who gathered for the evening conversations.
Younger Black voters spoke frankly about some distance they felt from the Democratic Party.
The focus group gathering organized by Astead Herndon. Over the course of the evening, he divided the group into smaller conversations that corresponded with divisions that were present within polling: older voters, younger voters, men and women.

It was a special focus group in another way, too. It took place over a Thanksgiving meal — complete with 13 different homemade desserts.


“The Run-Up” is hosted by Astead W. Herndon and produced by Anna Foley, Elisa Gutierrez and Caitlin O’Keefe. The show is edited by Rachel Dry, Lisa Tobin and Frannie Carr Toth. Engineering by Sophia Lanman and original music by Dan Powell, Marion Lozano, Pat McCusker, Diane Wong and Elisheba Ittoop. Fact-checking by Caitlin Love.

Special thanks to Paula Szuchman, Sam Dolnick, Larissa Anderson, David Halbfinger, Tara Godvin, Renan Borelli, Mahima Chablani, Jeffrey Miranda and Maddy Masiello.

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