• Sat. May 8th, 2021


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For Biden, great Black voter turnout may come down to men.

For Democrats, who rely on Black voters to power their electoral advantages in America’s urban centers, the difference between good and great Black voter turnout is often dependent on how many Black men go to the polls.

Black women are the party’s most loyal demographic base, but motivated Black male voters were a crucial distinction between former President Barack Obama’s record-setting Black turnout in 2008 and 2012 and the diminished performance of Hillary Clinton in 2016.

In states like Wisconsin, which was decided in 2016 by less than 23,000 votes, that dip was one of the causes of a Democratic night to forget, proof that the nominee had problems motivating the base, not just among swing voters.

In interviews with a dozen Black men in Milwaukee during the recent Democratic National Convention, and with several of the state’s most visible Black male elected officials, they predicted that Black turnout in November would look more like it did for Mr. Obama’s victories than for Mrs. Clinton’s loss, fueled by a leap in enthusiasm from Black men.

Little of this is because of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s personal appeal, they said.

The interviewees isolated other, more important factors: the constant chaos of the Trump administration, a backlash to the president’s demonization of minorities to win over white suburbanites and even Mr. Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris of California as his running mate.

“Four years ago, I don’t think a lot of Black men felt directly connected to that campaign,” said Mandela Barnes, who became Wisconsin’s first Black lieutenant governor in 2019. But in 2020, he said, “people are more desperate — people need solutions and need answers.”