Juan Williams: Obama has one more election to win

Christmas came early this year for black supporters of President TrumpDonald TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE.

Two recent polls showed the president with support from more than 30 percent of black voters.


If those polls are right, the 2020 election is over. Get ready for Trump to stay in the White House until 2025.

But I have my doubts. The polls have a high margin of error due to small sample size. And Trump’s approval rating among black Americans has been consistently measured at about 10 percent.

Even if the polls are off, they have opened a very scary question for Democrats:

Can Trump’s campaign win by counting on depressed — or in some places, suppressed — black turnout in November 2020?

Black voter turnout across the nation went down 7 percentage points in 2016 when compared to the 2012 election.

Despite about 90 percent of blacks voting for Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Shontel Brown wins Ohio Democratic primary in show of establishment strength READ: Cuomo's defense against sexual harassment investigation MORE in 2016, the decline in black turnout had a major impact.

Specifically, the lower level of black turnout in Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia all helped Trump to narrowly win Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and build the electoral college advantage that took him to the White House.

As Trump said a month after defeating Clinton in 2016: “They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was a big — so thank you to the African American community.”

Russian interference might also be due some credit for the lower 2016 turnout of black voters. No “single group of Americans was targeted by [the Russian internet trolls] more than African Americans,” according to a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report.

In fact, more than 60 percent of all Russian activity on social media, such as Facebook, targeted black voters.

And now, with no black candidate among the leaders for the Democratic presidential nomination, there is a repeat of another key dynamic in the 2016 race. There will be no black candidate at the top of the ticket to inspire black people to get to the polls.

When President Obama was on the ballot in 2008 and 2012, black voters set records for turnout.

In 2016, Trump won eight percent of the black vote, a higher level of support than the two previous GOP nominees, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain to produce 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Meghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' MORE (Ariz.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate finalizes .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session MORE. But keep in mind, McCain and Romney ran against Obama.

In the 2020, as in 2016, there is no black or minority candidate standing tall.

One major black candidate for the nomination, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisKamala Harris and our shameless politics Pelosi: House Democrats 'ready to work with' Biden on eviction ban Meghan McCain predicts DeSantis would put Harris 'in the ground' in 2024 matchup MORE [D-Calif.], has already dropped out, having previously raised what she called the “elephant in the room…is America ready for a woman and a woman of color to be president?”

Harris herself did not attract much black support — but will her charge that white voters remain fundamentally biased against non-white candidates potentially infect black voters with racial discontent and keep them away from the polls?

The other major black candidate in this cycle is Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerWomen urge tech giants to innovate on office return Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-N.J.). He will not be on the stage for this week’s televised debate. Unlike Harris, he did not qualify, having failed to meet the required level of support in polls.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court sides with oil companies in Baltimore case| White House environmental justice advisers express opposition to nuclear, carbon capture projects | Biden administration to develop performance standards for federal buildings Approving Kristen Clarke's nomination should be a no-brainer To unite America, Biden administration must brace for hate MORE (D) also won’t be on the debate stage. There is no sign he has gained traction with voters, white or black.

As a result, the best hope for a high black turnout in 2020 is not racial identification with any candidate, but disapproval of Trump.

In October, The Hill reported that a Hill-HarrisX poll found that “98 percent of black voters who identify as Democrat and 72 percent of those who identify as independent said they would back whoever ultimately becomes the Democratic nominee over Trump.”

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries FDA aims to give full approval to Pfizer vaccine by Labor Day: report Overnight Defense: Police officer killed in violence outside Pentagon | Biden officials back repeal of Iraq War authorization | NSC pushed to oversee 'Havana Syndrome' response MORE consistently performs best of any Democrat against Trump in national polls

Biden has particularly high support from black voters, who prefer him over any of the black candidates. He also has an important tie to black voters: his loyal service to the first black president of the United States, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAzar regrets Trump didn't get vaccinated on national TV Franklin D. Roosevelt's prescient warning Harris 'root causes' immigration plan faces challenges MORE.

Obama remains the undisputed black leader in Democratic politics.

The House Impeachment Hearings have given rise to a new generation of budding black Democratic stars such as Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsThe Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections Cuba, Haiti pose major challenges for Florida Democrats MORE (Fla.) and Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesThe Memo: Disgraced Cuomo clings to power De Blasio blasts Cuomo over investigation: He should resign or be impeached Entire NY Democratic congressional delegation now calling for Cuomo's resignation MORE (N.Y.).


But Obama remains the singular voice able to call black voters to the polls.

For strategic reasons, Obama is holding back from public support of Biden or anyone else.

He does not want to be seen as an establishment ‘kingmaker,’ anointing any candidate.

But the lack of credible, prominent black Democratic voices on the national stage is flashing a danger sign in the face of Trump’s desire for a depressed turnout in black precincts.

For that, Obama needs to get off the sidelines as early as possible next year and dedicate himself to activating the black vote. He has a moral obligation to stop Trump, the most racially inflammatory president in living memory, from winning a second term.

Obama has one more election to win for the Democrats.

Juan Williams is an author and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.