Joe Biden is headed to the White House, and he has low-income voters to thank.
While higher-income voters swung further towards Donald Trump compared to four years ago, increased support from poor and low-income voters helped push the former vice president over the top.
According to early polls, voters with household incomes of less than $50,000 in 2019 broke for Biden by 55 to 43 percent — a 12 point margin, compared to 8 four years ago. This helped overcome Trump’s gains among households with incomes above $100,000 — from 45 percent in 2016 to just over half in 2020.
At least 6 million more people in low-income households voted in 2020 compared to 2016.
Many organizations across the country deserve credit for fighting voter suppression and boosting turnout among poor and low-income voters.
For example, the Poor People’s Campaign, along with Forward Justice and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, trained hundreds of poll monitors in 10 states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.
To protect people from intimidation and voter suppression, these nonpartisan poll monitors spread out across 100 polling sites, including in some low-income counties that had not had such monitors for decades.
In the weeks leading up to the election, the Poor People’s Campaign contacted over 2.3 million poor and low-income people, most of them in battleground states, to encourage them to vote. More than 400,000, or about 20 percent of those contacted, voted early.
For those who voted in person on election day, poll monitors played a critical role in addressing issues such as long lines, voter intimidation, voting machine malfunctions, polling site understaffing, and other obstacles.
According to the Poor People’s Campaign, poll monitors in their 10 target states successfully advocated for more than 20 polling sites to extend their hours due to late openings or other disruptions.
“We can celebrate now for a moment,” Barber said. “But we must go to work and make sure that people can soon feel that their votes will result in policy change.”