Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is underperforming among Black men and their Latino counterparts, many party bigwigs fear, and it’s an issue his campaign is working to overcome.
Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, recently held a Zoom call with a group of high-profile Black men ranging from hip-hop mogul Jay-Z to civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, Politico reported.
While Black women have been lauded for their political engagement, Biden also will need high turnout from Black and Latino male voters to gain “Obama-era” victory. It is a point noted by one of the Zoom participants.
“We know Black women are the backbone of the party, but Black men are going to have to overperform,” an unnamed participant in the call told Politico.
According to data published in August by the Pew Research Center, “64% of eligible Black women said they voted, compared with 54% of eligible Black men” in the 2016 presidential election.
Years later, the Democratic enthusiasm gap between Black men and women had not improved, as Pew reported that in 2018 and 2019 “Black women (87%) were more likely than Black men (77%) to identify as Democrats.” Pew found that similar numbers held for Latino men and women over that span, reporting that 67 percent of Hispanic women identified as Democrats, compared against 58 percent of Hispanic men.
That doesn’t mean Black men are not paying as much attention as their female counterparts.
While many voters have become supporters of Biden because they feel it is necessary to do whatever it takes to get Trump out, for some Black men that reason alone is not enough. They want to know how Biden represents their interests.
Milwaukee Common Council (the city’s equivalent of a city council) President Cavalier Johnson said he hopes Democrats understand they shouldn’t take Black men’s votes for granted, especially in light of the results of the 2016 presidential election.
“There was this strong assumption based on the past presidential elections about this blue wall that was impenetrable,” Johnson told the New York Times. “You have to come out and you have to ask. And then you have to address the issues that are of concern to them.”
Among the issues that concern Black male voters are support for business, criminal justice and police reform, fixing the economy and lowering unemployment, Crump told Politico. They are issues Republicans are using to court Black male voters, according to Democratic pollster Terrance Woodbury.
“What we saw at the Republican National Convention was a very overt attempt to speak directly to the issues that are most important to Black men: criminal justice reform and unemployment,” Woodbury told Aljazeera.
Rev. Al Sharpton underscored Johnson, Crump and Woodbury’s points, telling Politico he gets frequent calls with Black men expressing their concerns.
“I’ve had Black men call up and say, ‘Well, what about us?‘” Sharpton said.
When “The View” co-host Joy Behar raised Biden’s lack of support among Black and Latino men on the show’s Sept. 18 broadcast, guest host Ana Navarro of South Florida weighed in specifically highlighting Latino’s propensity to vote Republican.
She said many Latino voters are skeptical about Biden because the Republican Party has been pushing ‘lies’ that under his leadership America will become a communist state.
“Here there’s a lot of people from communities, from countries that fled communism. People like me from Nicaragua, Cuban Americans, Venezuelan Americans and the Trump campaign Republicans, for the last four years, have been hammering the point that voting for any Democrat is voting for socialism and voting for communism. And it has worked. It has baked in,” Navarro said.
She advised Biden to counter Trump’s false narrative directly.
“I think Joe Biden needs to come down here and look Cubans in the eyes, and look Venezuelans in the eyes, and look Nicaraguans in the eyes and call malarkey; call out the lie and the hypocrisy of Trump,” Navarro continued.
Experienced pollster Cornell Belcher said among Black, Latino and Asian voters there is a “notable swath of voters who are holding back from Biden.” Issues like the 1994 crime bill and recent gaffes such as when Biden told Charlamagne Tha God “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black” are not helping Biden’s case.
Currently, he has the support of 77 percent of Black voters overall, compared to the 88 percent that supported Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election, a recent poll states.
Biden’s camp is hoping having Harris as his running mate, unveiling his plan to deal with systemic racism and outreach to underrepresented communities by political organizers around the country will help change that.
“In 2016, we ignored this as a problem. We’re not now,” former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said.
“I don’t have all the answers,” Harris added on her Zoom call with Crump and others. She added she hoped “together … we can figure out solutions.”