African American voters are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders appears to be giving up on them in the wake of his poor Super Tuesday performance.
According to The New York Times, Sanders is canceling a planned rally in the southern state and traveling to Michigan instead – a state his own campaign admits is must-win.
The Times reports, “Senator Bernie Sanders has canceled a planned rally in Jackson, Miss., and will instead travel to Michigan on Friday, a striking indication that his presidential campaign is shifting its focus to the Midwest and largely ceding another Southern state to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., according to people familiar with the plans.”
The report notes that the focus of Sanders’ canceled Mississippi rally was “racial justice.”
More from the report:
The change in plans suggests that Mr. Sanders will not challenge Mr. Biden for the support of black voters in the South — a vital base in the Democratic Party — and is instead going all-in on the Midwest as he tries to compete with Mr. Biden for working-class voters there. Black voters in the South have overwhelmingly backed Mr. Biden to this point, and on Super Tuesday this week their support lifted him in states like Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia.
In Alabama, Mr. Sanders won only 9 percent of black voters, compared with 72 percent for Mr. Biden, according to exit polls. Mr. Biden outperformed Mr. Sanders among black voters in Virginia by more than 50 points, and by 40 points or more in Texas and North Carolina. In several states, Mr. Sanders came in third among black voters, behind not only Mr. Biden but also Michael R. Bloomberg.
African American support is vital in a Democratic primary
Without the support of African American voters, it’s next to impossible to become the Democratic nominee. Sanders found that out the hard way in 2016 when he lost the black vote handily to Hillary Clinton.
Sanders’ poor showing among these voters four years ago apparently didn’t teach him a lesson, however, as he is signaling that he will no longer even compete to win over that part of the electorate.
While this is clearly a short-term decision to shift his campaign’s resources and attention to Michigan – a must-win state for him – it’s hard to see how it will help the Vermont senator mount a long-term comeback to overtake Biden’s post-Super Tuesday delegate lead.
African American voters are the reason Joe Biden’s campaign was brought back from the dead. It could also be the reason why Bernie Sanders will again fall short of being the Democratic nominee.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.