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Joe Biden, Donald Trump step up voter outreach to Black men

Both President Biden and former President Trump have stepped up their messaging to Black male voters, highlighting the political influence this demographic will have in November.

Black voters overwhelmingly support the Democrats, but there are growing concerns that black men may abandon the party after 2020, when Trump won the support of 12% of black voters.

Now, some observers say a black man could decide the winner of November’s presidential election.

“We don’t know how to win without Black men,” said Mondaire Robinson, founder of the Black Male Voter Project.

But he added that big strides need to be made not just with politically interested black male voters, but also with black male voters who vote “everyday.”

“The majority of black men in this country don’t see themselves in this situation,” said Robinson, who is also the mayor of Enfield, North Carolina. “Sixty percent of black men are absent from election after election, [candidates] They continue to use the same strategies. So I say to them, “Where is the path to victory without black men?”

While black voters are concerned about a wide range of issues, including education and health care, experts and advocates agree that either party needs to focus on the economy if they want to win over black men in the run-up to the election.

“Black voters this election cycle are prioritizing many of the issues we’ve seen over the past few election cycles,” said Terrance Woodbury, founding partner at polling group HIT Strategies, “but number one is the economy. However, I think there’s a contradiction here because when Black voters talk about the economy, they’re talking about costs, not necessarily jobs or wages.”

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 77% of black voters said they would vote for Biden if the election were held today, while 20% of black men said they would vote for Trump.

But Shelley Winter of the Georgia State Black Republican Council said while some polls suggest an ideological shift among black men, that doesn’t mean they’ll show up to the polls on Nov. 7.

“Black male voter turnout remains the lowest,” Winter noted.

He added that one of the reasons Black men are struggling at the ballot box is because no one is talking about the issues that matter most to them.

“We’re focusing on older people and women because we know that’s who are going to go to the polls,” said Winter, a Trump supporter.

This year, the Trump campaign has sought to put black male voters at the center of its message.

In February, Trump attempted to lean into pop culture by unveiling a line of sneakers targeted at black men at Sneaker Con, and also tried to connect with black men by referencing his own legal troubles in an apparent attempt to highlight racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Trump has also suggested he would consider picking a person of color as his running mate, but Robinson doesn’t think this will have any impact on black men’s voting habits.

“They think they can use faces that look like us to motivate black men to go to the polls, but it doesn’t work,” Robinson said. “They think of black men in the context of the ’60s, when Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael were leaders of a certain segment of black men. These brothers who don’t vote don’t trust anyone to be their leader. You can send Jesus Christ to knock on their door, but you probably won’t convince them unless you have a trusted messenger.”

But Trump’s team keeps forging ahead.

The former president recently visited New York’s South Bronx neighborhood, where he spoke to a largely black and Latino audience, and is scheduled to take part in a roundtable discussion in the majority-black city of Detroit on Saturday.

“President Trump is visiting Black communities and listening to voters where they live,” Janiya Thomas, the Trump campaign’s Black media director, said in a statement to The Hill.

“Opinion polls and every other measure of public support reflect historic numbers of voters in the black community abandoning Biden for President Trump.”

But Woodbury doesn’t expect this support for Trump to last until November.

“There is a gender gap between black men and black women, with black men being about four points less likely to support Joe Biden than black women, but this is a very small difference,” Woodbury told The Hill.

Woodbury said the bigger issue is a generational gap.

HIT Strategies found a 30-point difference in support for Joe Biden among younger and older black voters.

But Biden’s campaign believes his administration’s successes — forgiving student loan debt, reaching record lows for black unemployment and passing reforms like a ban on no-knock warrants — combined with Trump’s record of making racist rhetoric will deter black voters from supporting the former president.

“Throughout his life and political career, Donald Trump has disparaged black men at every opportunity. When he ran for office, he falsely accused five black men of murder, degraded the memory of George Floyd and launched his political career trying to disparage the first black president as a birther,” Biden campaign spokeswoman Sarafina Chitica said in a statement to The Hill.

“That’s why the first thing he did after taking control of the Republican National Committee was shut down minority outreach centers, and why his campaign has no black outreach programs. President Biden is on the campaign trail, trying to earn the support of black Americans instead of asking for them. That’s what leadership looks like.”

Democratic strategist Antjuan Searight said black men are currently in a vulnerable position, adding that the party that best appeals to that vulnerability will be the party that wins their support and takes the White House.

“We have to acknowledge the pain and the frustration … and we have to acknowledge that there is work to be done,” Seawright said.

“Some people don’t understand that you can’t reverse 400 years of inaction in one or two election cycles,” he added. “People see these weaknesses and they try to take advantage of them, but I’m convinced that [Black men] We will not be fooled. We will see through the fog and understand who has been with us and who has been against us, who will fight for us and who will oppose us, and who is trying to take away some of the basic foundation that we have recently been able to enjoy as black men in this country.”

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