Milwaukee is a major battleground in the US presidential election. It is by far the largest city in Wisconsin with a population of 590,000 and 40 percent of Milwaukee’s population are African American. The country has been a Democratic stronghold for many years. In 2016, Hillary Clinton was so confident in her victory in Wisconsin that she didn’t bother campaigning in the state. To everyone’s surprise, Trump won by 22,748 votes. Wisconsin won the battle for the White House.
Democrats don’t want to make that mistake again. That’s why Kamala Harris made her first campaign trip to Milwaukee as the Democratic vice presidential candidate this week. She absolutely wanted to make a gesture to the black community and make sure that this time they went to the polls en masse.
Naked self interest
Republican officials in Wisconsin have passed all kinds of laws over the past decade that have made it difficult for black voters to cast their ballots. But that wasn’t the only reason that turnout among African Americans in 2016 was nearly 20 percent lower than it was in 2012. Black voters were less enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton than they were about Barack Obama simply in their homes.
It’s one of the reasons the Democratic Party has so enthusiastically embraced the Black Lives Matter movement. It reflects an increasingly diverse party, but it’s also a sign of sheer self-interest: Democrats need a black vote to win in November. Black Lives Matter activists in Wisconsin are well aware of this and have little faith in Democrats. It’s a gesture they’ve seen many times before.