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I'm Shereen Marisol Merici. I'm Gene Demby, and you are listening to Code Switch from NPR. So the news just like just came in that Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, picked Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California, to be his running mate.

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That's right. And that makes her the first black woman to be on a major party ticket as vice president and the first South Asian as well. This is a historic moment and it underlines the themes of this episode, which we started working on before this news broke, because Kamala Harris is a polarizing figure, especially among the people we were planning to talk about today.

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That is black Democrats.

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And we're going to talk a little bit more about Kamala Harris a little bit later. But first, you were way back last year, Shereen, when we delve into the particular outlier universe of black Republicans.

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Yes. And all the weird contradictions and tensions between the people who identify as black Republicans. Oh, yes, I definitely remember that. And to me, one of the takeaways from that episode was that black Republicans don't seem to like or trust other black Republicans.

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You know, you think there's so few that they'd be tight, they'd be like in it to win it together. But that was not the case.

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Not at all. I've never heard more people get called an Uncle Tom than when I, like, studied black republic talking to black Republicans, like about other black Republicans.

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Like, it was just like, yeah. All right. Well, as we said today, we're talking about the other side of the game, as everybody might say, at least in our two party system, the other side of the game, that is the happy family of black Democrats, Comilla.

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I'm not going to Nastasi regardless of what their optics may be.

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Right, right. Well, but I think I do think that her optics are better than. But McConnell and Caernarfon Kamala and Susan Rice, they're definitely out of it for me because I'm not sure. Let me finish.

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So I'm not quite as happy and on the same page as some may have been imagining, Jean. Oh, not at all.

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And that's from one actual family of black Democrats. We're going to hear more from them in just a second.

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But, you know, these days, you hear a lot about how black folks are the base, the beating heart of the Democratic Party, and that in a presidential election, if you want to win the Democratic primary, you have to win black voters, black voters, one big happy family.

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All black voters want the same things. At least that seems to be what Joe Biden thinks.

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Yes. And by the way, you all know most people. Like the African-American community with notable. Latino community is incredibly diverse community. Incredibly different, a different. And there's also this idea that having a black woman on the ticket will be a guarantee to turn out those black voters in November. But the thing is, those many black Democrats want very different things from their candidates.

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Right. And here's an example. Let's talk about Comilla for a second. You've got the KIV, right? That's the Comilla lovers.

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And then there's the hashtag. Comilla is a cop constituency, all black Democrats. Not wanting the same things, and in case you're confused, those people calling him a cop are not saying it as a compliment, right? That's true.

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This idea that is sometimes used in political science called a captured constituency is this idea that in this two party system that we have certain voting blocs are just stuck with one party who can take them for granted because the voters in that bloc have nowhere else to go.

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And black voters are often presented as the quintessential captured constituency because as we've talked about before, voting for Republicans is usually a complete non-starter for most black folks.

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But as we can see, being part of a captured constituency doesn't mean that it looks like a coherent constituency once you start fiddling around under the hood.

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It also just glosses over all the ways that black Democrats within the party try to wield their agency to make the party do what they want.

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So, yes. In this episode, we're going to talk about some of the messy conversations among black Democrats which have really come to the foreground in this big, monumental election cycle that you may have heard of, some of these debates are happening within the same families like between that mother and daughter we just heard from underneath Walker Hall mother.

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The mom said, say it louder. OK, I'm off. My name is Denise Walker Hall. I am retired and I am the mother of Taryn Hall.

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Thanks. My name is Taryn. I am a writer and a consultant, a freelancer. And I am here with my mom to talk politics.

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I guess like a lot of black families and especially black women, Denise and Taryn take voting real, real seriously, Denise said. Her grandmother grew up in Mississippi, so there were poll taxes and all sorts of other, you know, barriers and hurdles to black folks who were trying to vote. And so Denise's people have become a voting ass family. She's never not voted in a local election in a presidential election. And she passed that on to her daughter, Taryn, when Taryn was in college at Hampton and was finally old enough to vote.

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She made the trip back home to Richmond, Virginia, to cast a ballot for the first time alongside the rest of her family and grandma.

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Granddad, I think Sam is my brother and sister there.

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My mom was there and I felt there was probably a dog involved, too. I remember it was like I went across the street, went into the place and voted and like they were like it was like I had become like a full adult because, like, I had voted.

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That's that's amazing. I love that story.

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So seriously. There are probably a whole bunch of other adulthood rituals that she missed. But that one that one was really important to her.

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I just I remember I just remember feeling so like, excited, like I have made my family proud. He did, and they were like they were hype, like it was like a party turn up to vote.

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But as we've been hinting at Zareen, it's not all fun and games because, yes, they need centerin like the overwhelming majority of black voters are Democrats, but they have very different priorities in the voting booth in this election cycle. They were backing a very different candidate in the primary.

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Hmm. Morning. I'm going to ask a question right now that may come off as rude. I Artemy Karen Grigsby Bates has written etiquette books.

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I know this is a no no sorry KGB, but I need to know how old is Denise?

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That's a good question. Thank you. The relevant question. So Denise is in her early 60s. Mm hmm. That's that's what I'm allowed to say. And so she's a boomer, obviously.

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All right. So I'm guessing she's Team Biden. Very much so.

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Thinking back, you know, I was you know, that was the only person I was considering voting for. I think it wasn't as much for him as I didn't I was not attracted to the people that were running because, you know, the somebody that you know and someone who has a history. He was Barack Obama's running mate. I'm a fan of Barack Obama. And and it was somebody that I knew, someone that she knew.

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That is definitely a sentiment we've heard from a lot of black Democrats. Yes. In Denise's age group.

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Yes, absolutely. Tarim, meanwhile, like a lot of younger black Democrats, is to the left of her mother. She was right to die for Elizabeth Warren. So much so that during the primaries she dropped a dog, Jodeci, off with her mom, Jodeci.

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I think that's a great dog name is a great dog name forever, my lady.

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It's like a dream. So she moved from Adelaide. All right, I'm done.

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So Sarah, move from Richmond, Virginia, where she lives to Boston to work on Elizabeth Warren's campaign.

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Oh, a young black woman moving to Boston, of all places of their own volition. She must have loved Elizabeth Warren, who couldn't be me, but she said she liked it.

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You know, Boston's a big immigrant community. She said the food was bound. The music was bomb anyway. I was in Boston working for the Warren campaign. Her job was to organize staffers who were going out into the streets and knocking on doors and making the case for Elizabeth Warren. And so when she was doing that, she was also trying to make that same soft sell to her mom. Oh, yeah.

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There are different times where, like, my mom will bring up certain things and I will push back and be like, well, she wants to implement this policy for us. And this is how it could impact us, like materially in our lives, right around health care, around student loans, around maternal mortality. And a lot of it was me saying, hey, mom, like, this is how I think our lives could be better if you voted for this candidate.

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How did you I want to know how you perceive that, mom.

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I took it and thought about it and, you know, and I and she did have some good policies. And I was thinking that maybe even though Biden, she would be a good, great vice presidential pick because she knows how to govern. She has all those great policies and she's used to D.C. So she did have that. But as a presidential candidate, no. Whoa.

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Right. So she has all these things. Mm hmm. She is used to D.C., but no.

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Not a potential candidate.

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Nope. And you can hear this difference. Right. So Taryn wanted this bold and specific policy action and her mom, her mom was using this very different calculus when we talked and he said a presidential election is a popularity contest.

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So it doesn't matter if your preferred candidate has good policies, if they're not popular.

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Exactly. So Denise basically was gaming out who she thought other voters might find electable. And again, the same generational debate was playing out all over the place. Right.

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I remember being at a Bernie Sanders event at Morehouse and there was a son whose father was kind of unsure.

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I was wondering when Bernie was going to make an appearance. Oh, so that's instead turned in. He's a national political reporter for The New York Times.

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But Morehouse student who had come and was clear for voting for Bernie and was kind of working on their father.

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So this is just like Tarran and her mom, Denise. But obviously we're talking about Bernie Sanders instead of Elizabeth Warren. Right, right.

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Right. And I said, what about all these family tensions that he kept saying when he's reporting? It was last fall just before the primaries really got underway.

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And that story had probably my favorite of New York Times headline, quote, young black voters to their Biden supporting parents. Is this your king?

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From this historic day, we knew that Biden's support from the day he entered the Democratic primary was was driven by older black voters and we also knew that younger voters weren't really siding with Biden.

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Yeah, many younger black voters have been ambivalent toward Joe Biden. And I'm just going to say ambivalent because there's there's been a range of feelings towards Mr. Biden, but we'll say ambivalent.

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Biden famously or infamously joined forces with Southern segregationists like Strom Thurmond in the Senate in the 80s to oppose voluntary busing programs for desegregation. Then there was the 1994 crime bill. It's coming up again in this election. They gave money to states to build more prisons and help ratchet up the war on drugs.

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And right now, when many of those younger voters are asking to radically rethink things like the criminal justice system, and we should also mention importantly, that is a criminal justice system that younger people are way, way, way, way more likely to be swept up in than their parents and their grandparents. Good point. Biden stances on those in other issues have garnered him a whole lot of support.

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And so you have these interesting family dynamics that will play out where you had younger people who are more interested in things like student debt cancellation or breaking up big tech or major criminal justice reform. Actually, you know, kind of pushing their parents to think outside of the kind of strict electability lens which Biden had really motivated people through. And sometimes I think people are surprised because they underrate the degree to which young voters are really motivated by policy.

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You got to remember that most people are not voting for candidates based on policy positions. They vote on these old tropes. You know, can I get a beer with this person or, you know, do they seem presidential, whatever that means or who do I want to pick up the phone when it rings at three o'clock in the morning?

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It's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House and it's really something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call.

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It's so weird that we have the same criteria for four presidents and booty calls. Anyway, there's there's a lot of young black voters have had their political views shaped. It says there's a lot of young black voters have had their political views shaped by the Black Lives Matter movement, which is extremely policy focused.

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And so something like ending cash bail is something young voters are familiar with and something that they expect from their politicians. And so that is not something Joe Biden really embraced, particularly initially in the campaign, because he was making a different bet on where the majority of the electorate was at. The biggest fear among folks was about beating Donald Trump and projecting that you could.

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And as we've discussed before, that strong party identification is one of the unique things about this so-called black vote for white people in the United States.

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Voters party identification usually follows ideology for the most part.

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If you're a white conservative, you're voting for Republicans.

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If you're a white liberal, you're voting for Democrats, for black folks ideology.

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It plays a different role in a lot of aspects. It doesn't really matter. Yeah, it doesn't. Almost all black conservatives vote for Democrats.

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I'm going to say that again. Almost all black conservatives vote for Democrats in presidential elections. Something like nine out of every 10 black voters cast a ballot for a Democrat, which means black voter turnout for Democrats is almost a one to one proposition. A black vote is basically equal to a vote for a Democrat. Right.

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And that's just not remotely true for any other constituency that the Democratic Party has been trying to court. And black people also vote at significantly higher rates than the next voters and Asian-American voters and in recent elections at close to par with white voters, which is remarkable given how many barriers are thrown in the way to keep black people from voting.

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And we're just going to shout out historian Carol Anderson right now. Look her up if you don't know who she is.

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She's been on the podcast before. But all of this is why over the last few years, we've heard so many Democrats in many Democratic strategists beating this drum about black turnout, about the suppression of black voters. There's just such a big return on investment for the Democrats when it comes to black votes that those people are arguing. It just makes sense for the party to spend all the energy and time and money making sure black people can and will vote than it does trying to win over people who are wishy washy, you know, so-called swing voters.

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Do you have a larger sect of black people who are part of the Democratic Party? You have a bigger range instead, Herndon again. So it includes religious black Democrats. And so black Democrats are religious in the way higher rate than whites in. Ah, and that kind of brings that kind of somewhat conservative throughline, particularly on social issues. You also just have a regional diversity that plays out. And so when we think about moderates and this was a big frustration point in the primary for those covering it, sometimes we would always think about who was doing well among kind of ideological.

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I don't want to be taxed for the green New Deal moderates and in New Hampshire or in Iowa. But the biggest sect of moderates in the Democratic Party are black and somewhat Latino voters who don't necessarily think in the terms of the right left spectrum, but sometimes are called more cautious progressives. So there would not necessarily disagree with the further left position, but they prioritize things like trust and familiarity above kind of the strict limits policy tests we often talk about, which is what we heard from Denise.

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Mm hmm. I know Joe Biden and Biden was betting big on older black voters like Denise. It looked like a big gamble at first. Right, because Biden came in fourth in the Iowa caucuses. Then he came in fifth in the New Hampshire primary. His campaign was in bad shape, maybe on its last legs, if we can remember that far back. It was not good going into that South Carolina primary.

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But see, things are different in South Carolina because there are very few black voters in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina.

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The majority of the Democratic primary electorate is black folks.

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And as we know now, South Carolina is when the whole race changed in more ways than one.

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Those black voters in South Carolina, they rallied behind Biden to the point where he blew everyone else out of the water. He beat the second place finisher, Bernie Sanders, by nearly 30 points. And after that, when all the other Democrats sort of endorsed him and Biden went on to win most of the Super Tuesday primaries.

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So Biden's bet that this well of more moderate voters, we're talking about older, southern, black, cautious progressives. And I'm doing your air quotes here.

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As I said, call them that bet paid off. And now Joe Biden's the presumptive nominee.

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Mm hmm. Of course, that is not the end of the story. His bet wasn't incorrect.

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Obviously, he ends up winning the primary. But what it did not do was really motivate young people to be with them.

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So what if those young people take their side and stay home in November Wolf.

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More on that when we come back.

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[00:20:44]

We're only months away from Election Day and every week or even every few hours, there's a new twist that could affect who will win the White House. To keep up with the latest, tune into the NPR Politics podcast every day to find out what happened and what it means for the election. Cherine gene code switch before the break, we were talking about these generational and ideological splits among black voters as they pertain to one Joe Biden.

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And we talked about what that meant during the primaries.

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So what might all that ambivalence among younger voters mean for black turnout in the fall, for the actual election as it happens?

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I mean, I talked to one of the people tasked with tackling that very problem.

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My name is Mounded Sanders. I serve as one of the senior advisors for the Biden for president campaign. And what do I do? I like to say that a senior adviser means we do anything and everything. So I serve as a senior adviser for outreach and political and free covid I used to travel with the vice president.

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Side note, Simmons Sanders was the spokesperson for Bernie Sanders, no relation back during the 2016 presidential campaign, and she's only 30.

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So she was one of the younger black voters making a very different, more progressive argument just a few years ago. Now, part of her job is to win over those black voters who preferred her former boss. Right.

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And those young disaffected voters could be huge. So in a primary, there are not as many variables. Right. Like relatively speaking, it's simple. If you win your party's base that they show up, you're in pretty good shape. But general elections have so many more factors in play in our presidential elections tend to be really, really close. So someone said because black voters are such high leverage voters, just a modest bump in turnout in November could flip some key states.

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The majority of voters in Michigan are white voters. The majority of the electorate in Michigan is white. However, Wayne County, the county in which Detroit sits in twenty sixteen, a one percent increase of voter turnout in Wayne County would have accounted for all of the votes the Democrats lost. Michigan by Wayne County are black voters.

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So while the majority of the electorate in Michigan are not black voters, obviously we have to do real work in speaking to black voters in Michigan, particularly in Wayne County.

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When Biden's campaign was flailing, Simon was dispatched to South Carolina to try to win over black voters there. And like we said before the break, that primary ended up being the first domino to fall in Biden's favor.

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The voters know the immense responsibility that they have South Carolina voters. They know that people are looking to them to see what they are going to do. Who are they going to vote for? Who are they going to give golden tickets to on their way to Super Tuesday? And I will tell you that there were voters in South Carolina, some that had not made up their mind.

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And there was one black voter in particular who everyone in South Carolina seemed to be waiting on.

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Some people were saying, I think I know how I'm going to vote for, but I also want to know who Jim Clyburn is going to vote for.

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Mr. Jim Clyburn and for those of you who don't know, Clyburn is the congressman from South Carolina, but that doesn't really tell the whole story.

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He's the majority whip in the House, which makes him the highest ranking black lawmaker in Congress. And before that, he was a respected civil rights organizer.

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And when he was elected to the house, he was the first black lawmaker from South Carolina in 95 years since the eighteen hundreds. So his voice carries a lot of weight.

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So we decided to get Jim Clyburn on the line.

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Makes sense.

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I knew I was going to vote for Joe Biden, but I had not decided exactly how to go about endorsing him if I needed to, Representative Clyburn said that during the primary you could hear from person at the person who said that they wanted to vote for Joe Biden, but they needed validation because people with so many choices didn't know where to go.

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You had three African-Americans in the race. You had men and women and people who had been there before. And so people really were anxious about what they were feeling but didn't want to go to the polls not knowing that there were people like myself in leadership here in the House of Representatives who could offer some validation for their feelings. So that's all I was doing.

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So when he endorsed Joe Biden, Clyburn said that thing that turns mom said, we know Joe.

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Mm hmm. But more importantly, Joe knows us.

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And that endorsement may have been the pivotal moment of the entire Democratic primary because 60 percent of the black voters in South Carolina said that Jim Clyburn endorsement was an important factor in their decision on how to vote.

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Wow. 60 percent said it was Representative Clyburn endorsement. That's huge. Huge. And one thing that we need to mention in case people don't know this, is that Representative Clyburn and Joe Biden are friends. They've known each other for decades, their contemporaries. Biden is 77, Clyburn is 80. And as respected as Jim Clyburn is, he is very much in the demographic that likes Joe Biden. Yep. South Carolina's black primary voters, they're older, they're more conservative.

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And, of course, in the general election, South Carolina doesn't even go Democrat. It goes Republican. The support for Joe Biden there doesn't really tell us that much about younger people in other places who are ambivalent about Biden when it comes to the general election.

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Yeah, and I asked Jim Clyburn about that, like, how would you make the case to young black folks who look at Joe Biden's record on all these big issues that they care about and they just come away unimpressed?

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Yeah, one or two people will be sworn in as the next president of the United States on January 20th. It's going to be Donald Trump or Joe Biden. And I would say to young people, take a look at these candidates, look at their records. Don't keep telling me about the nineteen ninety four plan deal. 1994 crime bill has some stuff in it that you said you would want. Hmm.

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So Clyburn, Clyburn here, he went on to defend, you know, parts of the 94 crime bill. He said there were things in it like community policing. There was the Violence Against Women Act. And he said the Republicans took over Congress and basically stripped it of all those things and just left it with the most punitive component of it. And then he said, on the other hand, Donald Trump is doing terrible things right now.

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Today, that guy is sending storm troopers into cities trying to create a riot, the same kind of storm troopers that beat John Lewis within an inch of his life back in 1965. People forget that those weren't hoodlums off the streets that beat up those 600 people walking across that bridge, those law enforcement officers who got their orders from Sheriff Klop. And now we've got the same kind of stuff taking place in Portland, getting their orders from the White House. The governor didn't ask them to come into Oregon.

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The mayor didn't ask him to come to Portland. The person that sent them there and so will be arguing over who may or may not have been in the 1994 crime bill, please once again compare Joe Biden to the alternative, not the almighty. In that episode we did of black Republicans last fall, I spoke to a political scientist, Cheryl Leard, and if you haven't heard that episode, you need to go back and listen because it was great.

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Thank you. And in that episode, Cheryl said that because of this specific and unique proximity that black people have to each other, hashtag, housing, segregation and everything, black people are uniquely good at enforcing the norm, that black people vote for Democrats.

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And Cheryl has a new book out called Steadfast Democrats, which is about all those social forces that shape black voting behavior. And she said that everyone's voting is primarily social, but black people, it's a different beast. So Cheryl told me that it's black women in particular who are custodians of this norm, that black folks should vote for Democrats.

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Black women are more likely to vote than black men and in some cases to be able to vote than black men. And even though the overwhelming majority of black men are still Democrats, they're a little bit more likely to vote for Republicans.

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Yep. And President Trump also has a higher approval rating among black men than he has among black women.

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I'm staring at the television audience at home silently.

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You know, I mean, they are black women at the party like they are. They are party the way that where black women go, so goes the party. They're the most loyal to the party, even when they themselves may not see representation that reflects themselves. They are loyal to the party. So they are there with Barack Obama, although he's he's black, he's a black man. They are there with Hillary Clinton more than any other racial group of women, even though she's white and a black woman, have long been historically just consistent participants in the norm and enforcers of of of the partisan norm.

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So she said that, yes, Biden is going to have kind of a challenge with turning out young people in November. But she also said, we think what the social forces in the context of black voting black women are force multipliers.

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So black women don't just vote by themselves. Right. They vote more with like the collective in mind and with the collective right. So it's not just about mobilizing that one black woman to vote, that one black woman can mobilize like 10 other people.

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This is something the media is doing kind of awkwardly a bunch.

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Over the last few years I've said this, but she said this on air, a bedrock truth is that anything good that happens in American politics, the cornerstone for that good thing happening, the electoral cornerstone.

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Can black black we do in elections, they really turn out in huge numbers. They are the Democratic Party's most loyal and consistent voters. Honestly, black women are the people who we count on to pull us over the finish line every election. And I have no doubt that they will turn out in massive numbers this year because they were the part of the Democratic constituency that didn't need Trump getting elected.

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And so, yeah, this narrative is a little bit simplistic and it kind of sits uncomfortably close to some weird Jenky tropes about black women as caretakers.

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But black women are the social connectors in their communities. The church mothers, they volunteer at the polling centers. They lead registration drives. They volunteer for campaigns like Sharon and Cheryl said. Also, we're in a pandemic. A whole lot of younger black voters who might not turn out in a different year. They are back home with their mothers on closer contact with their aunties and all those other civically engaged older black women who are definitely going to the polls are voting from home or whatever we're going to do on November 3rd.

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Exactly. So I was like, you really think they don't let people stay home? Really, really know. And now we have the Comilla running mate news. Right. Will that be even more of a driving force to bring people out?

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Well, actually asked Schurrle about this, and it was before we knew it was going to be Kamala Harris specifically. But there were a few black women, obviously, like in the mix for the running mate. But she said that, historically speaking, whoever the nominee picks as a running mate, it doesn't really matter that much when it comes to turnout in the general election.

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But I also think there's something to be said about the fact that while historically we don't have the counterfactual, what if your running mate is black?

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Like like what? What if what if the person as the VP is black? Like, we don't actually have a test to understand what that would look like so we can look at the data we have. But the data we have is missing a data point, a huge one, a huge, huge data point.

[00:33:33]

Right. What if the running mate is black? And specifically, what if that running mate is a black woman? It might matter a lot to the people who make up the base of the party, black women, especially older black women, that there is finally a black woman on the ticket and a black woman who has called out Joe Biden for some of his past missteps when it comes to race.

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Who could forget that debate where she brought up Biden's stance on busing?

[00:33:58]

I've also heard and I'm going. Now, director, said Vice President Biden, I do not believe you are a racist and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground. But I also believe and it is personal and I was actually very it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing.

[00:34:38]

And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me. But like Byron Jean and I know you know this, Kamala Harris has her own controversial history when it comes to the criminal justice system.

[00:35:04]

She has been a prosecutor for most of her career. She was the ag of California and she's gotten a lot of heat, especially here in California, for her.

[00:35:15]

How shall I say this complicated? Yes, I said it complicated criminal justice record.

[00:35:23]

And there are many black public intellectuals, many of whom are women, who put a spotlight on how some of Kamala Harris decisions really hurt black people.

[00:35:35]

There's a whole lot there just in unpacking. Kamala Harris is criminal justice history.

[00:35:40]

That's an entire episode in and of itself. So you want us to do it? Tweeted us.

[00:35:47]

So, yeah, there are a lot of reasons younger black voters might be skeptical of Abidin Harris ticket, but representation is the thing that everyone assumes that black voters want. But obviously, obviously, it's much more complicated than that. Right. There were several black candidates running for the nomination. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, shout out to Deval Patrick and black folks.

[00:36:06]

Deval Patrick was in the race. It was Deval Patrick in the race.

[00:36:09]

Yeah. Everyone forgot that Deval Patrick was in the race. I think Deval Patrick for that. Patrick is in the race and black folks, old and young, obviously opted for other candidates instead who were not black.

[00:36:21]

But even if young black folks aren't convinced that Biden and Harris are the ones, they are going to be strongly encouraged, strongly encouraged or dragged, whatever you want to say, strongly, strongly encourage to come out to the polls and vote for them.

[00:36:44]

Why? Because it's the pragmatic thing to do.

[00:36:48]

And Joe said that that pragmatism that's always been a defining feature of black voting is a kind of nose holding for the greater collective good. Black people have been voting for Jenky uninspiring white dudes for as long as we've had the franchise in this country.

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And younger voters have less experience with this, but not loving the options in front of you. Like Cheryl says, that's just part of the deal of being a black voter, a vote for a janki uninspiring white dude.

[00:37:17]

It's a rite of passage.

[00:37:19]

The party politics of the US has always been one that has been quite contentious and challenging for African-Americans. And I think as you get older, people become more pragmatic, like they're just like this is what it is like. This is it. It's not something that is going to be revolutionized overnight. It is a slow moving train. So for older black people, they're like, yeah, we used to be a lot like you guys when we were younger and have a particular ambitions and dreams for what we wanted from the politics.

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But we got some things and sometimes we had to stand down on other things.

[00:38:00]

But what we realized is that it's it's hard like it's very hard to change things very fast.

[00:38:20]

Before the primary vote turned up at work on her mom, you know, she's trying to switch over from Biden to Elizabeth Warren, right. But she says she didn't even try when it came to her grandmother.

[00:38:30]

I came home to Virginia to vote for Super Tuesday. And I was like, granny, like I was like I just know she just looked at me like the way that old black women look at you.

[00:38:44]

Move that to the side. And Taryn was nudging her mom, but that really wasn't going nowhere either.

[00:38:51]

I didn't. I didn't realize how deep her love for Joe Biden was. I've got to love, OK? I didn't realize how deep her commitment to the Joe Biden as a candidate was until much later. And I was like, I have.

[00:39:07]

But I will say this when I did go in the voting booth. I did look at Elizabeth Warren for a long time, really. I did thanks to you all.

[00:39:19]

But I was thinking, Joe Biden. Yeah, I did stop and think about it, it's not that I just ran in there and just cast my vote, you know, I just ran and I do that. I did think about it, OK, but I remember my vote counts.

[00:39:39]

So I voted for by Taren was zero for two on her mother and grandmother.

[00:39:48]

So she doesn't have that much pull in her family. It seems like she's like you got it.

[00:39:53]

Like when describing her grandmother, she again used that word we keep hearing. She's talked about pragmatism again.

[00:39:59]

She's from Mississippi, grew up in the Jim Crow South on a farm like she has a very pragmatic approach to politics. You know that there is a pragmatism, I think, that comes with that, just trying to survive and like figure out how you make it out of the thing alive. That comes with with her framework for voting. I think for me, I had the opportunity to dream big and fight hard, as some of my colleagues used to say about what imagining what a life beyond like.

[00:40:35]

But this landscape is yeah, I mean, it seemed like Teran had kind of conceded to it in her own way, right? I mean, she wasn't thrilled about the prospect of voting for Joe Biden in November.

[00:40:48]

You know, I would rather like work or what we got and like figure out some other things in the process. But, yeah, I mean, it's Survivor.

[00:41:03]

It's we're it's Survivor out here. So you have to be friendly. Is food, water, shelter, toilet paper, toilet paper wipes like otherwise.

[00:41:14]

Yeah, it's survival of the fittest.

[00:41:16]

And one of the things that I learned I feel like that has been helpful is just to like do the work in front of you and like the work in front of us is to reduce harm, in my opinion.

[00:41:31]

So, again, they're going to be so many factors that will come into play in this year's election, which will probably be really close. So many, you know, feel about the president or the economy, how enthusiastic people are about his challenger. When Joe Biden even, you know, like things as like circumstantial was what the weather was like in some big cities, in key states on that Tuesday in November.

[00:41:52]

And we can't forget about voter suppression.

[00:41:57]

And all this is happening right now while we've got this global pandemic going on. So this is this is all making voting very difficult, right? And like we said, the margins are going to be really thin, like if everyone else holds the form as 2016, if black turnout is just a little higher this year than it was in 2016, the Democrats and Joe Biden necessarily will probably win the White House for the people who are less than enthused. Ultimately, that turnout might have as much or more to do with the pitches made to them by the old heads and especially older black women, than anything that comes from the man who is running to be the next president.

[00:42:50]

All right.

[00:42:51]

That is our show. Please follow us on Twitter at NPR Ko's, which you can follow Sherene at Radio. Meraj, that's all one word.

[00:42:58]

Radio Meraj and me at Ghedi two one five. That's Guidi to one five. I want to hear from you. Our email is Code Switch at NPR dot org and subscribe to the podcast on NPR one or wherever you get your podcast.

[00:43:14]

This episode was produced by Leah Daniella and just come with help from Melissa Young Perry.

[00:43:18]

It was edited by Leah and a big shout out to Julie Wambo, a political scientist at George Washington University whose brain I picked at length for this episode. Preschedule shout out to the rest of the Cosulich Massive Kumara Devarajan, Karen Grigsby Bates, Ella Johnson, Natalie Escobar and Steve Drummond. I'm Gene Demby. I'm Shereen Marisol Merici.

[00:43:39]

Easier piece. This is fine. Thanks, Mom. You're welcome back. Back in the day, as Netflix began to gain popularity, its rival, Blockbuster, was looking for an edge. At one point, the investors were asking for Blockbuster to sell jeans in the store.

[00:44:09]

Yeah, you just met in these like older investors being like, you know what the kids want? They want jeans.

[00:44:13]

You get a Tom Cruise movie and some stonewashed jeans. The downfall of Blockbuster and the rise of Netflix.

[00:44:19]

Listen to it's been a minute from NPR.