What Makes a Man Manly? Trump and Biden Offer Competing Answers

Sixty-seven percent of white men without college degrees support Mr. Trump, according to the Times/Siena poll. Also, a small but potentially significant number of Black and Latino men have shifted their support from the Democratic Party to Mr. Trump, in part because of the president’s macho appeal, analysts say.

Mr. Trump’s approach can be seen as a throwback to a time when men’s main role was to provide for and lead their family, researchers said. Mr. Trump’s children briefly greeted him in his office before and after school, recalls his first wife, Ivana, in her book “Raising Trump.” Today, he relies on his children professionally — both in business and politics — and publicly praises them, but is rarely seen showing them affection.

Mr. Biden has been fully hands-on with his children, and was their primary caregiver long before that became less of a rarity. He became a single father early in his career after his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash, and he helped care for his son Beau while he had cancer (he died of it in 2015).

“He’s lived that experience of ‘What will I do? I have to go to a meeting, and where will my kids be?’” said Cynthia Hogan, who served as Mr. Biden’s counsel starting in 1991 when he was a senator and again when he became vice president in 2009. “At that time — and I think even today — a lot of men really weren’t doing that.”

The two political parties in the United States have long differed along stereotypically gendered lines, as have voters, according to research by Monika McDermott, a political scientist at Fordham.

“The Democrats are the more feminine party: They’re willing to tax more and have bigger government because they’re willing to care for people,” she said. “Republicans are more about rugged individualism, being independent and fending for yourself.”

For the current candidates, their views of manhood are reflected in their policies and politics.

Mr. Trump prioritizes strength and patriarchy. “Don’t let it dominate your lives,” he said of the coronavirus, for which he was hospitalized. His foreign policy is called “America First.” He disparages or fires political enemies. At a rally this week, he told voters he wants to get “husbands back to work.” Though Mr. Trump has spoken of the need for family policies, he has delegated them to his daughter Ivanka, and very little has been done.

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