Black voters are more worried than others about health and economic damage from coronavirus, poll finds


A man votes at McKinley Technology High School on primary election day on June 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. On Tuesday, nine states and the District of Columbia are holding primaries, most of which were previously delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Black voters in swing states worry more than other groups about the health and economic crises created by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll. 

Black respondents in the key 2020 states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are more likely than white voters to have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or know someone who has, the survey found.

At the same time, 42% of black voters said they or a member of their household lost their job or have been furloughed because of the pandemic — higher than the 37% of Hispanic and 29% of white respondents, respectively. 

The CNBC/Change Research poll surveyed 3,958 likely voters in the six states from Friday through Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6 percentage points. 

Looking forward, black respondents worry more than any other group about the ongoing health and economic effects of the pandemic: 

  • Among black voters, 94% have very or somewhat serious concerns about Covid-19. That compares with 75% and 57% of Hispanic and white respondents, respectively. 
  • Eighty-five percent of black respondents have very or somewhat serious concerns about reopening the economy too soon, versus 68% of Hispanic voters and 48% of white voters. 
  • Nine in 10 black voters have very or somewhat serious concerns about themselves or a family member getting sick, compared with 76% of Hispanic respondents and 53% of whites. 
  • About half of black respondents think the pandemic is getting worse, compared with 37% and 32% of Hispanic and white voters, respectively. 
  • A larger share of black voters than Hispanic or white respondents said they are somewhat or very worried about their health costs, job security and personal finances in the next year.

As millions of people across the country protest anti-black racism following a string of police-involved killings of blacks, the survey underscores the disproportionate burden black Americans have borne from the pandemic. As they protest the nation’s policing and justice system, some activists and elected officials have pointed to the disparities in the pandemic’s effects as another result of structural racism. 

Covid-19 has killed at least 21,750 black people in the U.S., according to the COVID Racial Data Tracker. Black Americans have made up 24% of the country’s coronavirus deaths where race is known, but account for only 13% of the overall population.

The unemployment rate among black Americans was 16.7% in April following widespread business closures to curb the pandemic’s spread — higher than the overall 14.7% rate. 

The pandemic and nationwide protests have consumed the 2020 presidential election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the apparent Democratic nominee. The incumbent has spent recent days encouraging crackdowns on demonstrations and scattered destruction of property without giving specific policy recommendations for police reform or addressing racial inequity. 

Biden — who has faced backlash for his role in crafting a 1994 crime bill that critics say exacerbated mass incarceration in the U.S. — criticized the president’s response to the protests in a Tuesday speech. He outlined several proposals to reduce police violence and promised a broader plan to combat racial inequity, including by expanding health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. 

The poll found the presidential race is virtually tied in the six swing states, as Biden holds a 47% to 46% edge. Trump led in all previous versions of the survey.

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