Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bernie's South Carolina Problem

One take away from the Nevada caucuses yesterday is that Bernie Sanders to date has not been able to win the support of black voters.  As the Democrat primaries move into South Carolina and then on to other states, this failing could fatal to Sanders' claim to be viable nationwide.  A piece in Politico looks at Sanders' problem and speculation as to how Sanders will do or not do in the upcoming primaries.  Here in Virginia (our primaries are on March 1, 2016), we are already beginning to see Clinton ads on television.  Here are excerpts from the Politico piece:
For Bernie Sanders, who took a drubbing from African-American voters in Nevada Saturday, it only gets worse from here.

On the heels of losing the black vote by a blowout margin of 76 percent to 22 percent, according to entrance polls, the Vermont senator now must look ahead to South Carolina next Saturday, where African-Americans will cast a dramatically larger share of the vote than in Nevada.

In the first-in-the-West caucuses, African-Americans cast just 13 percent of the vote. In the upcoming first-in-the-South primary, they’re expected to cast nearly 60 percent of the Democratic primary vote. Then, several days later, comes a burst of Super Tuesday primaries where Sanders must run in nine states with higher black populations than Nevada.

Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster, laid out Sanders' quandary in direct terms.  "This is Bernie Sanders' problem: If you cannot compete for the black vote, you cannot be the Democratic nominee for president," Belcher said.

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison said . . . . When you're going into states like Georgia and North Carolina and Louisiana and Mississippi that have a significant African American population which will make up a large component if not the majority of the Democratic primary in those states you need to be able to win significantly enough so that you can pull out a victory in those states," Harrison said.

Both neutral Democrats and Clinton campaign observers concede that Sanders is making some progress among black voters in South Carolina, but contend that it's not enough to cut the deep roots the Clinton name has among black voters in the state.

"It's a wall," said Rick Wade, President Barack Obama's 2008 African American outreach director, correcting himself after first saying Clinton had a "firewall" of African American support. "And I'm confident that she will win South Carolina, The question is by what margin."

The Clinton campaign is determined not to give Sanders the opportunity to gain ground. Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond, a Clinton surrogate, offered a sharp critique of Sanders' college plan during the senator’s tour of black colleges in the South.  Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge and former Bill Clinton administration Labor Secretary Alexis Herman making stops at churches and black sororities. Fudge and a handful of other prominent African-American members of Congress also made stops at black churches across South Carolina in support of Clinton.
Some of my friends will likely have a fit with me, but tomorrow I think I will put a Hillary bumper sticker on my car.

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