Monday, February 17, 2020

Democrats Scramble for the Black Vote

At LAT, "In aftermath of New Hampshire results, a scramble for black votes":

MANCHESTER, N.H. —  What’s one thing Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar all have in common, other than the fact they each had a good showing in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary?
They all come from mostly white states and have little history of electoral success with black voters. They now have only a few weeks to try to change that.

With the continued decline of Joe Biden’s candidacy, which endured a miserably bad night in New Hampshire, African Americans, a crucial Democratic constituency, may now be up for grabs to an extent that has not been true in a Democratic primary in many years.

As a result, black voters could be positioned to decide who becomes the next Democratic nominee. But unless Biden can pull off a huge reversal of his current fate, they may well be choosing among candidates whom many in the African American community have doubted.

“None of them have a long, deep history of support and work with the African American community,” said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster who worked with President Obama’s campaign and is now a consultant to the campaign of former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

“If Biden does collapse, it will be a free-for-all for the support of the minority vote — which I think is a good thing for minorities to have a big field competing for their vote.”

Polls have shown that at least so far, black voters have preferred Biden over other 2020 presidential candidates by a wide margin, which he hopes will keep his campaign on track with a big win in South Carolina’s Feb. 29 primary, where some 60% of the primary electorate is black.

That’s why Biden traveled to South Carolina to kick off his campaign there Tuesday night rather than hang around New Hampshire for the disappointing results.

Speaking to supporters in Columbia, S.C., Biden minimized the significance of the results in Iowa and New Hampshire, saying it was more important to hear from more diverse states like Nevada and South Carolina.

“We just heard from the first two of 50 states,” Biden said. “Not all the nation, not half the nation. Not a quarter of the nation, not 10%. Two. Where I come from, that’s the opening bell, not the closing bell.”

“Up till now, we haven’t heard from the most committed constituents in the Democratic Party, the African American community or the fastest growing segment of society, the Latino community.”

Biden enjoys a reservoir of good will among black voters largely because of his eight years as President Obama’s vice president, but that support may prove to be more wide than deep.

Perhaps even more than other Democrats, black voters are intensely focused on finding a candidate who can defeat President Trump. In the wake of Biden’s weak showing, there are already signs that his support among blacks is eroding — and that the two billionaire candidates are gaining at his expense.

A new Quinnipiac University national poll released Monday showed Biden’s share of the black vote had dropped to 27%, from 51% in December.

Bloomberg came in second place, nipping at Biden’s heels with 22%. In South Carolina, Bay Area billionaire Tom Steyer is courting black voters and has jumped into second place in many polls...