Rapper and business mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs insisted this weekend that Black voters “hold our vote” this upcoming election until a candidate makes issues for Blacks a priority in the campaign, adding that Black voters who put President Barack Obama into office “got a little bit shortchanged.”
“This is politics. You put somebody in office, you get in return the things that you care about for your communities. I think we got a little bit shortchanged. That’s not knocking the president,” Diddy said in an interview with MSNBC on Sunday. “He’s done an excellent job, you know, but I think it’s time to turn up the heat, because the Black vote is going to decide who is the next president of the United States.”
An estimated 31 percent of eligible voters this election will be minorities, making this the most diverse election in United States history. A recent Pew Research Center study found that Blacks make up 12 percent of all eligible voters. Of Black registered voters, 85 percent support Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and 2 percent support Trump.
But to pick one major party candidate simply to be against the other is not the answer, according to Diddy, if the candidate does not prioritize the issues important to Black voters. “The heat has to be turned up so much that as a community, we’ve got to hold our vote,” he said. “Don’t pacify yourself; really revolutionize the game. Make them come for our vote. It’s a whole different strategy, but I think we need to hold our vote because I don’t believe any of them.”
However, “negative voting” is, among both parties, significantly more relevant than in the 2008 election. In 2008, 68 percent of Democratic supporters said their vote was for Obama and 25 percent said it was against McCain. This year, 45 percent say their vote is against Trump, with just 53 percent saying it is for Clinton.
Sixty-one percent of registered Black voters called relations between racial and ethnic groups “a very big problem” — the highest number when compared to white, Hispanic and overall registered voters. Additionally, 77 percent have high concerns regarding the gap between the rich and the poor — also the highest number among the surveyed demographics.
While Diddy said he is not knocking Obama’s presidency, more could have been accomplished for the Black voters who helped elect him. “My number one thing, to be honest, is Black people — I feel like we put President Obama in the White House,” Diddy said. “When I look back, I just wanted more done for my people, because that’s the name of the game.”
In both 2008 and 2012 more Black voters turned out to the polls than in recent elections. According to U.S. Census data, Blacks made up 11.1 percent of the voting population in 2004 (despite 11.9 percent being part of the eligible electorate), 12.3 percent in 2008 and 13.4 percent in 2012. An estimated 93 percent of Black voters voted for Obama in 2012, CNN exit polls found.
Diddy supported Obama during his 2008 campaign. However, he said over the weekend that Clinton needs to do more to earn his support, as well as the support of the rest of the Black community, because Obama could have done more.
“Hillary Clinton, you know, I hope she starts to talk to directly to the Black community,” he said. “It really makes me feel, you know, almost hurt that our issues are not addressed and we’re such a big part of the voting bloc.”
Other Black voters — particularly young ones — share these sentiments. “We’re in the midst of a movement with a real sense of urgency,” said Brittany Packnett. Packnett, 31, is an activist for police accountability. According to Packnett, Clinton has not done enough to reach the Black community, and “the conversation that younger Black voters are having is no longer about settling on a candidate who is better than the alternative.”
Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster, emphasized that the support of the younger Black community should not be underestimated by the Democratic Party. As of now, his research found, Clinton trails behind with the support of young Black voters compared to Obama.
“There is no Democratic majority without these voters,” he said. “The danger is that if you don’t get these voters out, you’ve got the 2004 John Kerry electorate again.”
What may resonate most with young Black voters is issues of police-racial relations. A focus group of young Black voters were not affected by a pamphlet with a Trump photo that bore the caption, “We have to beat the racists.” However, according to the New York Times, “Scoring much higher were a stark black and white handout showing the names of those killed at the hands of police and another with images of mothers of the victims that said, ‘Their Children Can’t Vote, Will You'”
Of all registered voters, Clinton currently leads Trump 41 to 37 percent, with 10 percent supporting Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and 4 percent supporting Green Party candidate Jill Stein.