Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Some of the leading Democratic presidential campaigns can barely articulate how they're specifically trying to reach black millennials ahead of 2020 —  a group that Democrats say is the future and face of their party.

Why it matters: "Donald Trump's campaign is handing out literature in black barbershops right now; they’re doing micro-targeting on Facebook and have a digital strategy to engage black folks," said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change.

  • "The Democrats would serve themselves really well to understand in deep ways the power in intersectionality. ... [B]eing specific and clear will help people understand you're not just talking around them or at them, but talking to them."

Some Democrats — like Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg — are visiting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), hoping to turn black students into black organizers for their campaigns. 

  • That's definitely a good place to find black millennials, but of course it's not the only place. 
  • Still, it's significant that there's a heightened presence on HBCU campuses in this cycle compared to past cycles.

Others are going on shows like "Desus and Mero" (Mayor Pete) or publishing articles on websites like The Root and The Grio (Harris and Warren), aiming to be in the places where black millennials are watching and reading. 

Several campaigns said they're trying peer-to-peer texting, but that's not new and it's not like black millennials are on their phones more than others in 2019.

  • Harris' team, however, uses a separate text template for HBCU students.
  • Their goal, per a campaign aide, is to "actually speak like them, look like them, and be culturally relevant to them."

The big picture: Given their low participation rates in recent election cycles, the jury's still out on whether this is enough to mobilize black millennials in 2020.

But one thing is clear: they're an untapped well of political power, and Democrats and Trump alike are trying to figure out how to capture their attention — and eventually their votes.

Other campaigns can only point to more general measures.

  • Beto O'Rourke's campaign cites his voting rights proposal, which would help young people get registered to vote as soon as they turn 18. But they also point to O'Rourke calling Trump a white supremacist and his viral moment in 2018 talking about the larger racial context behind NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
  • "For black millennials, there's so much interest in and hunger for this type of honest and strong condemnation of what the president is doing," said Ian Wilhite, an O'Rourke campaign aide.

And some, like Joe Biden's campaign, say this isn't something they're "ready to talk about right now."

  • Update ... After this story posted, a Biden aide added: "[T]he campaign will roll out a higher education policy proposal down the road that will include a component for HBCUs."
  • The Democratic National Committee, when asked about how they're targeting black millennials this cycle, provided information on their initiatives to reach out to African American voters and younger voters — but not young black voters.

What to watch: 30% of black millennials surveyed by the University of Chicago's Gen Forward project said they feel the Democratic Party doesn't care about them. That's a lot of votes to write off.

Editor's note: This piece has been clarified to show Rashad Robinson is president of Color of Change and spokesperson for Color of Change PAC.

Go deeper

Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: The swing states where the pandemic is raging. Ex-FDA chief: Pence campaigning after COVID exposure puts others at risk — Mark Meadows: "We are not going to control the pandemic"
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — U.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  4. World: Australian city to exit one of world's longest lockdowns — In photos: Coronavirus restrictions grow across Europe
  5. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine after possible COVID-19 exposure
  6. Nonprofit: Rockefeller Foundation commits $1 billion for COVID-19 recovery
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Bond investors see brighter days

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. government bonds could breakout further after yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note ticked up to their highest since early June last week.

But, but, but: Strategists say this move is about an improving outlook for economic growth rather than just inflation.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

The dangerous instability of school re-openings

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Schools across the country have flip-flopped between in-person and remote learning — and that instability is taking a toll on students' ability to learn and their mental health.

The big picture: While companies were able to set long timelines for their return, schools — under immense political and social strain — had to rush to figure out how to reopen. The cobbled-together approach has hurt students, parents and teachers alike.