The notion that Joe Biden absolutely must pick a Black woman as his running mate in order to win the 2020 election got some pushback on Wednesday during a segment on CNN that featured a graphic showing three potential candidates who were white. The smiling faces of Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren next to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitner shown by CNN conspicuously omitted the two Black women who — up until Wednesday, at least — have been most frequently rumored to be in the running to be paired with Biden at the top of the Democratic ticket: Stacey Abrams and Kamala Harris.
For Tiffany D. Cross, the political pundit who is also the managing editor of The Beat DC newsletter, the imagery on her TV was too much to ignore.
Building off that same energy, Abrams appeared on “The View” on Wednesday and was asked how important it is for Biden to choose a Black woman. Abrams didn’t hesitate with her answer.
“I think Vice President Biden is going to make a smart choice and I appreciate the fact that he has lifted up women as being a necessary partner in this,” she began in reference to the vow to pick a woman as his running mate. Abrams added that the color of the running mate does matter.
“I would share your concern about not picking a woman of color because women of color — particularly Black women — are the strongest part of the Democratic Party. The most loyal,” she said. “That loyalty isn’t simply how we vote, it’s how we work. And if we want to signal that that work will continue, that we’re going to reach not just to certain segments of our community, but to the entire country, then we need a ticket that reflects the diversity of America.”
The logic behind Biden selecting a Black woman isn’t far-fetched by any means. While it’s only a fraction of the reason why Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016, that election had a low turnout by Black voters compared to their record participation in 2008 and 2012 that helped propel Barack Obama to victory. Adding a Black candidate to the Democratic ticket could — and should — help inspire more Black voters not just to cast ballots for Biden and his running mate. Conversely, if Biden were to choose a white woman as his running mate, it could result in the same lack of enthusiasm Black voters felt four years ago.
Apparently, oddsmakers don’t completely subscribe to that same sense of logic. For what it’s worth, the Bookies.com website gave Klobuchar, Warren and Whitner better chances of being picked by Biden than Abrams. Harris, however, was at the top of the list.
With that said, there is one small wrinkle in the hope that Biden will select a Black woman: He recently said he would not commit to picking a woman of color.
Those seemed to be Biden’s most explicit comments about his future running mate to date, but it was unclear how that strategy might affect his campaign that was already nearly $187 million behind Trump in terms of fundraising. A poll last week found that Biden running with a Black candidate could boost his chances of winning the 2020 election.
If Biden does select a white woman as his running mate, it could alienate Black voters who have been largely credited with solidifying Biden’s presumptive nomination after Bernie Sanders jumped out to an early lead following the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary in two very white states.
Or, as the Grio put it a bit more plainly last week with its headline: “If Biden doesn’t pick Stacey Abrams, he can kiss Black folks goodbye.”
Of course, the end game for Democrats is to vote out Trump, so it’s doubtful that Black voters would rather see the incumbent win instead of electing a new president and his running mate, regardless of who or what color she is. But in 2020, with the stakes so high and the world witnessing an American president who has no idea how to handle the coronavirus, would Biden really take that chance? Only time will tell.