African-Americans are a critical component of the Democratic base; they make up slightly more than 13 percent of the population but account for nearly one-quarter of Democratic voters, according to Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster. They are also an outsize force in the House Democratic caucus, which has more than 50 African-Americans; there is only one black Republican in the House, Representative Will Hurd of Texas.
Black voters turned out in droves to help elect Barack Obama, and younger African-American voters were part of “a huge surge group for Democrats” in the 2018 midterms, motivated by their antipathy toward the president, said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster and expert in the African-American vote. Their antipathy for him goes far beyond his policies; they view him as a racist and an “existential threat,” he said.
Many still mock his 2016 plea for their support: “What the hell have you got to lose?”
And those voters’ representatives are taking up their cause — not only African-American House members like Mr. Evans but others who represent substantial black populations, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who is of Puerto Rican descent, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who is Palestinian-American, and Steve Cohen of Tennessee, who is white but whose Memphis district is two-thirds black.
But Mr. Belcher said the kitchen-table issues that Ms. Pelosi liked to talk about — jobs, health care and the high cost of prescription drugs — remained more important than impeachment.
“Among activists, the chattering class, it’s a real priority,” Mr. Belcher said. “Among Joe Blow African-American voter who does vote regularly but is not a political activist, does he want Donald Trump removed from office? Yes. Is he for impeachment? Sure he is. Is it his top priority? No.”
Yet here in Philadelphia, where African-Americans account for about 55 percent of Mr. Evans’s district, impeachment did seem to be a top priority in West Oak Lane, a leafy neighborhood of brick and stone houses in the northwest part of the city. Earlier this year, Mr. Evans brought Tom Steyer, the billionaire liberal activist who is pressing for impeachment, to the commercial strip of black-owned businesses along Ogontz Avenue. He retraced those steps on Wednesday.
“I agreed with everything he said,” exclaimed Paulette Beale-Harris, 60, who owns a florist shop, referring to Mr. Steyer. “It’s time for Congress to do something. It’s time for them to stop being afraid to do what has to be done for the country.”