Former Vice President Joe Biden saw his support among black voters cut in half in a new edition of a tracking poll conducted after the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate, during which Sen. Kamala Harris directly confronted him over his past opposition to busing and praise for segregationists.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday, 20 percent of black voters said they support Biden for the Democratic nomination, down from 40 percent in June.
The survey found that Biden’s overall support fell by eight percent following last week’s debate, leaving him just six points ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who polled in second place at 16 percent.
Harris, a senator from California, saw her support jump four points after the debate, according to the poll.
The findings of the Reuters/Ipsos survey were consistent with other post-debate polls showing Biden’s support among black voters in free fall.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday found that Biden’s support among black voters fell from 48 percent to 31 percent following the first of twelve total 2020 Democratic primary debates.
When confronted by Harris over his anti-busing record and praise of racist senators, Biden refused to apologize and mischaracterized his past position, claiming that he only opposed busing mandated by the federal government.
Harris invoked her own personal experience as a child who was bused to school every day to slam Biden’s record of opposition to the practice, saying that she was “was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley, California public schools almost two decades after Brown v. Board of Education,” the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that deemed racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional.
“There was a failure of states to integrate public schools in America… So that’s where the federal government must step in,” Harris said. “That’s why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. That’s why we need to pass the Equality Act.”
Harris is not the only 2020 Democrat who has confronted Biden over his record and recent comments.
In a statement last month, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) called on Biden to apologize for praising the “civility” of segregationist Sens. James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia.
“Men like James O. Eastland used words like that, and the racist policies that accompanied them, to perpetuate white supremacy and strip black Americans of our very humanity,” Booker said. “I’m disappointed that he hasn’t issued an immediate apology for the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans. He should.”