US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at an outdoor Black Economic Summit as he campaigns for president on September 23, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden traveled to the battlefield state of North Carolina on Wednesday for a Black Economic Summit. This is part of a wider effort his campaign launched to attract entrepreneurs and black voters.
It was Biden's first trip to this key state since the coronavirus pandemic forced him to cancel the campaign trip this spring. In 2016, President Donald Trump won North Carolina with almost four points and again this year it is considered a must for the Republican.
As of Wednesday, state polls averages showed Trump and Biden were neck to neck in the state of Tar Heel, with Biden leading the way with a statistically insignificant 0.5 points. This week's survey by CNBC / Change Research found that Biden has a 2 point lead in the state.
In addition to the urgency of the competition, the vote in North Carolina has already begun. The first postal ballot papers were sent out on September 4th.
Biden's campaign on Wednesday hosted the Charlotte Summit, where the former vice president commented and then answered questions from a socially distant audience of black local entrepreneurs and community leaders.
Biden drew attention to some of his previously announced economic proposals, including his plan to allocate an additional $ 70 billion to historically black colleges and universities.
He called for a national standard for coronavirus business reopening, backed by a multi-billion dollar test and PPE supply chain, so that small business owners not only have uniform health guidelines but also the means to implement those recommendations.
Biden also touched on the racial wealth gap and the fact that the ongoing economic shock of the pandemic has only served to widen economic racial gaps.
"We have to break a cycle, and the cycle is that when businesses are doing better and things are going well, the African American community is by and large at the bottom of the economic pile," said Biden. "Then when things get bad they'll be the first in the hole. And when things get better, they'll be the last out there."
The federal unemployment data support Biden's argument. In August, the unemployment rate for black Americans was 13 percent, compared with just 7.2 percent for white Americans.
The employment gap is compounded by the fact that black and Hispanic households are less likely than white households to have a financial cushion in the event of job loss. According to polls by the Pew Research Center, 73% of black adults and 70% of Hispanic adults earlier this year said they had no emergency funds to cover expenses for three months, compared with 47% of white adults.
The Biden campaign hopes that a strong plan to eradicate systemic income inequality, as well as Biden's election of California Senator Kamala Harris as his fellow campaigner, will help level the ground that Democrats lost in the state in the past two election cycles.
Black voters make up nearly 23% of North Carolina's voters, the largest proportion in any of the major battlefield states. Black voters have long been considered reliable democratic voters. Even so, Trump surprised observers in 2016 when he came into contact with black men and received a total of 13% of their votes. This is more than three times the support Trump has won from black women.
Both the Biden and Trump campaigns expect North Carolina to be a wafer-thin victory regardless of who wins it, and both sides are spending money on advertising there.
Biden currently outperforms Trump by 2: 1 overall, and much of those differences reflect advertisements the Biden campaign runs on television and online in states like North Carolina.
On Tuesday, the Trump campaign launched radio advertising in 11 "urban" markets, including Charlotte and Raleigh. They show former NFL player Herschel Walker and Georgia MP Vernon Jones, two of Trump's most famous black supporters.