South Florida Democratic leaders are sounding the alarm when it comes to minorities heading to the polls.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, whose district covers large sections of Miami-Dade and Broward, delivered her message Monday as loudly as she can.
“I am up to here as to how I feel. Black people are not taking this election seriously,” she said.
Top Democrats say even with all that’s at stake this fall, the turnout so far is below what it was in 2016 and well behind when Barack Obama ran for a second term. It’s why they are calling on the former president to save the day.
Obama spoked at Florida International University on Monday evening, the second time that Obama he's been in South Florida recently trying to get the vote out, and this time, it's really targeting to the minority community. Experts say without the minority vote showing up in huge numbers here the most populated counties in Florida, Biden will have an uphill climb trying to offset President Donald Trump’s popularity in rural areas of the state.
In Miami-Dade, the early voting is now over and massive numbers of vote by mail ballots are in -- 63% of voters already have had their say, but when it comes to African American voters, Wilson said it appears the turnout is not what she expected.
Sixty-six percent of Black voters turned for Obama in 2012, and 59% turned for Hillary Clinton, but so far the number for Black voters this time is below that.
"We did have a problem with Black men in the community not having heard a message from Vice President Biden that was directed at them,” Wilson said.
Wilson has made appearances on urban radio stations, and on Sunday, Black churches had a message to head to the polls for early voting after service. Wilson says Biden has apologized for supporting tough crime bills in the 1990’s that sent those with small amounts to drugs to prison for years and has presented a concrete plan to help them.
“These men are looking for health care. They are looking for small business loans,” Wilson said.
The 2016 Florida map shows the few counties, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach, that went Democratic and why experts Biden must win them by massive margins. Donald Trump took almost every other county of the 67 in the state.
“It’s extremely important because if you look at polling consistently in the state of Florida, you will note that Donald Trump has a strong lead in terms of white voters," said Randy Pestana, a public policy expert at FIU. "Now that’s decreasing from 2016, which means the Democratic base in really relying on African Americans who are traditionally Democrats as well as Hispanic community which, as you know, is not monolithic."
Democrats hope having Obama in South Florida Tuesday will help in getting minorities to the polls.
“It’s an opportunity for us as African Americans but specifically in South Florida to turn out the vote like we have never turned out the vote before," said Derrick Johnson is the national NAACP President. "I do understand people feel disconnected, but in order for us to see the change we would like to see, it starts at the ballot box."
"You’ve got to get out. You’ve got to put on your masks and vote. And I say put on your damn mask. Wash your damn hands. Go to the polls and vote. It’s time for a change. I mean how much can we take. It’s time for a change," Wilson said.
Wilson told us she does believe, despite the risk of COVID, many Black voters simply want to have the experience of going to the poll on Election Day because of history involved and challenges of not being able to do that. They are hoping that’s part of the reason why these numbers have been behind other demographics.