by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer
There have been Election Days before, but, with the exception of Nov. 4, 2008, there has never been an Election Day in modern history like today.
Welcome to Tuesday, November 3. Election Day. The final day for millions across the U.S. to cast their vote to either keep Donald J. Trump in the White House, or to oust him in favor of Joseph R. Biden Jr. (sorry, Kanye, you’ll have to sit this one out…)
When Barack Obama was elected president on Nov. 4, 2008, African Americans were dancing in the streets. A lot of Black people of a seasoned age never thought they would see a Black U.S. president. That night, when Obama was declared the winner, it was a night no Black person will ever forget.
But today, Nov. 3, 2020, Black people across America have reason to take this Election Day as seriously as they did in 2008. Most African Americans view the current president, Trump, as a racist agitator who fails to denounce those who sing to the beat of White Supremacy. They wanted Trump out of office yesterday. Last month. Last year. Two years ago. Most African Americans never wanted him to become president in the first place. In 2016, Trump received 8 percent of the Black vote nationally; the remaining 92 percent went to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.
But at 3 a.m. on Election Night 2016, Donald J. Trump was named the winner, and African Americans, as a whole, couldn’t believe their eyes.
But today, Nov. 3, Election Day 2020, African Americans have assured their families, pastors, co-workers and friends that if they haven’t voted already, they will vote today. With more than 750,000 fewer African Americans voting in the 2016 election than in 2012 when Obama was re-elected, African Americans can take nothing for granted. Every vote counts.
Here in Pittsburgh, as you read this on Election Day, African Americans all across the Pittsburgh region are headed to the polls. Pennsylvania is at the center of the 2020 election; both Biden and Trump have practically lived here over the past few days, courting voters.
And so, as the seconds turn into minutes, and the minutes turn into hours on this Election Day, Blacks in the Pittsburgh region actually could hold the power as to who becomes the next president of the United States.
Welcome to Election Day in Black Pittsburgh.
Homewood. The Hill District. The North Side. Beltzhoover. Sheraden. Lincoln-Lemington. McKees Rocks. Bellevue. McKeesport. Clairton. Homestead. These are just some of the neighborhoods and municipalities that will see a good percentage of African Americans rolling to their nearby Allegheny County poll locations today.
The New Pittsburgh Courier, which has been the voice of Black Pittsburgh for 110 years, will be outside various polling locations today, interviewing those who have finished casting their vote. The Courier is interested in the strong opinions some may have about President Trump or Joe Biden, and why they felt it was paramount to cast their vote. The Courier also is interested in Black parents who bring their children to the polling locations, to make them a part of the process of voting, knowing that one day, they’ll be old enough to participate. The Courier will be witnessing the car pools that will get Black voters to the polls who otherwise would not be able to get there. The Courier’s Rob Taylor Jr. and Ricco J.L. Martello will anchor the newspaper’s coverage throughout the day and into the night.
For some background information, remember that while Pennsylvania is usually a state that votes “Democratic” in presidential elections, in 2016, it went “Red,” to the Republican, Donald Trump. It was a surprise victory for Trump in Pennsylvania, who won the state’s popular vote by 44,000 votes. That’s only a 1 percent advantage that Trump won over Clinton. Pennsylvania has a hefty 20 electoral votes, and when Trump put those electoral votes in his pocket, it helped him win the 2016 Presidential Election.
Joe Biden, obviously, wants to garner more votes than Trump in Pennsylvania. In Allegheny County, Biden will get way more votes than Trump, just like Clinton did. But in the counties that surround Allegheny County, that’s a different story. Those counties, like Beaver, Butler, Washington, Westmoreland, Greene and Fayette, usually go Republican. That’s why, for Biden, the more votes he can get in Allegheny County, the more he can offset the Republican votes going to Trump in the surrounding counties.
This is where the Black vote comes in. There are 1.2 million residents in Allegheny County; 160,000 are Black. In the 2016 election, Allegheny County counted 643,199 total votes; 367,617, or 56 percent, went to Clinton. Trump got 40 percent of the vote, or 259,480 votes. If African Americans in Allegheny County vote in record numbers, that only spells good news for Biden. If Blacks don’t come out to vote, that spells better news for Trump.
The polls in Pennsylvania opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m. Remember, across the state, more than 2.3 million Pennsylvanians already voted either with early voting or via mail-in ballots. In Allegheny County, more than 330,000 mail-in ballots have been returned to the County Elections Office; 242,000, or 72 percent, have been Democratic mail-in ballots. 59,000 have been Republican ballots. The Courier believes that a little more than half of the voting population in Allegheny County has already voted prior to Election Day; thus, the Courier expects about 300,000 votes to be cast by voters in Allegheny County on today, Election Day.
It’s Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 — Election Day in Black Pittsburgh. Let the voting begin.