While the news shocks no one, it’s worth pointing out:
Former vice president Joe Biden is far and away the favored candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination among black Americans, boosted by his personal popularity, his service in the Obama administration and perceptions that he is best equipped to defeat President Trump, according to a national Washington Post-Ipsos poll.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) occupies second place in the Democratic field among African American voters, easily outdistancing the remaining candidates in the race. Sanders is leading among black voters under age 35, replicating his success with younger white voters in other national polls. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) runs third.
Wherefore the Boy Mayor?
The survey finds meager support for former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is among the leaders in polls in the predominantly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire but stands at 2 percent among Democratic black voters nationally. A lack of familiarity with him and concerns about his experience and sexual orientation appear to be contributing to his current standing. Buttigieg has said that as African Americans get to know him, he will gain more support, but the poll undercuts that assertion. He receives only 3 percent support among black voters who are familiar with him.
Many younger African Americans, however, are drawn to Sanders rather than to Biden. Terrell Askew, 33, a community organizer in Baltimore, said that in 2016, he believed Sanders was the candidate with the best policies but felt then that the Democratic Party wasn’t ready for someone like Sanders. Today, Sanders is his preferred choice.
“I prefer his track record, particularly around housing, which is a major issue,” Askew said. “And the conversations that he’s had around debt, student debt and things like that. And addressing the economic disparities between the poor and wealthy individuals in our country.”
He sees problems that weren’t addressed aggressively enough by Obama and wonders whether Biden would be more of a status quo candidate, rather than someone who would take on conditions in the country that he thinks contributed to Trump’s victory four years ago.
If my readers think they’re invulnerable enough to hang out in political Twitter and Facebook, they’ve seen the speed at which younger white left-identified voters can, with a capacity for negative capability that would impress Keats, dismiss Biden, mention Sanders’ support among younger black voters, and say nothing about how to woo the older black ones. On a particularly gruesome FB thread last weekend, a commenter — a person of color — averred that Barack Obama was the best president we’ve had. We can have reasonable objections. But the resistance — the contempt — came not from conservatives, but from white dudes in their twenties with nothing to say about health care or judges and Supreme Court justices. They can’t address why black voters over thirty-five prefer Biden: he stood behind the first black president in a subsidiary role for eight years without genuinely seeming to mind. Many will not understand this basic point.