Charles M. Blow: Democrats’ Black male voter problem | GUEST COMMENTARY

FILE -- People vote in Harlem on Election Day, Nov. 2, 2021. "Last month in a videotaped appearance for a "Pod Save America" live show, Stacey Abrams, a celebrated Democratic activist and the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, said that Black men have the power to determine the election in that state," writes New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow.  (Anna Watts/The New York Times)

Last month, in a videotaped appearance for a “Pod Save America” live show, Stacey Abrams, a celebrated Democratic activist and the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, said Black men have the power to determine the election in that state.

After explaining that some Black men chose not to vote because “often the leadership that gets elected is not reflective of their needs,” she said: “I know that if we have the kind of turnout possible among Black men, and they vote for me, I will win this election. That is why my campaign has been so focused on making sure we’re addressing those challenges.”


As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution pointed out, this echoed a statement she had made at a “Stacey and the Fellas” event in the state where she said, “If Black men vote for me, I’ll win Georgia.”

Why this specific focus on Black men? It is most likely because an AJC poll from July found that she was significantly underperforming with Black voters, with just 80% of the Black electorate supporting her, although Georgia Democrats usually get more than 90% of the Black electorate.


The campaign seems to be focusing specifically on Black men when considering this deficit.

Notably, Raphael Warnock, a Black Democratic senator from the state who is running for reelection, got the support of about 85% of Black people in the poll.

Now, there may be something different in the appeal of these candidates; there is definitely a difference in the quality of their opponents. Or we might simply be seeing the familiar sight of misogyny creeping in.

It’s hard for me to tell. Although I wish I had the answers here, I don’t. But I will say that this trend appears to be bigger than just Georgia. We have seen a similar differential between Black men’s and Black women’s votes on the national stage. According to The Associated Press’ VoteCast survey, 12% of Black men voted for Donald Trump in 2020, compared with just 6% of Black women. This was consistent with 2016 levels, when 14% of Black men voted for Trump.

What’s happening nationally may well be bleeding down into what’s happening in states such as Georgia.

In 2019, political consultant W. Mondale Robinson founded the Black Male Voter Project, an advocacy group, to solve this very problem by trying to “help Black men believe in the electoral process again.” As he wrote on the group’s website in 2019: “I wound up doing campaign work for a long time, and one thing I noticed right away was that most of the people who determine what’s said about politics generally, but progressive politics more specifically, are white men. The messaging they convey doesn’t speak to my lived experience as a Black man. It’s not motivating to me or to the brothas I know — uncles, cousins, friends, men like my father.”

I think that for many progressives, this disposition can be hard to fathom. For them, the choice seems clear and binary, like night and day. They can’t conceive of a reality in which voters become pessimistic about the entire process, some choosing not to vote and others casting protest votes.

I also don’t think it registers with progressives just how disappointed and disaffected many Black men have become with our current politics.


President Joe Biden has experienced a string of legislative victories in recent months, but as I’ve underscored here before, narratives can be hard to change. It may also be the case that Black men are simply more conservative than Black women, as men are a bit more conservative than women in general.

Even though the criminal justice system disproportionately affects Black men, and many of the more high-profile killings by the police have been of Black men, a Pew Research Center poll released last month revealed that fewer Black men than Black women believe that police brutality is an extremely big problem for Black people, and more Black men than Black women believe that police funding should stay the same, rather than be increased.

There has been quite a bit of speculation about why Black men’s votes are not more in line with Black women’s, and although some of the theories are interesting — including the possibility that Democrats are ignoring the interests of Black men — it is impossible for me to say definitively that any of those theories completely pan out.

What is clear, however, is that the softening support for Democrats among Black men is not just a thing that people like me find interesting enough to write about. Democratic candidates such as Abrams find it disturbing enough to worry about, and that should worry all Democrats.

Charles M. Blow (Twitter: @CharlesMBlow) is a columnist for The New York Times, where this piece originally appeared.