Politics, United States

Democrats Presidential Candidates Battling for Black Vote

Amongst the most dependable in the Democratic Party, Senator Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton are locked in an intense battle for voters in the African-American community. Their primary campaigns for the presidential campaigns involve aligning with several notable names in the Black community as well as canvassing neighborhoods of the community. In the meanwhile, Joe Biden, the Vice President is mulling over entering the race a bit late and has already begun making subtle overtures to African-American leaders. For instance, he attended a prayer breakfast on Saturday, which was hosted by Congressional Black Caucus. He received a standing ovation, shook hands and also posed for photos.

G.K. Butterfield, the Caucus chairman called Mr. Biden a longtime friend. By the next year, the share of African-American voters in the Democratic primary electorate will be around 20%. The support of the community is of the utmost importance in the early primary state of South Carolina where half of the Democratic primary electorate are composed of blacks. It has been suggested that Mrs. Clinton may need to reboot her campaign in South Carolina as her numbers are dropping in New Hampshire and Iowa. According to polls, she has a significant lead in overall black votes.

A former first lady, secretary of state and senator, Mrs. Clinton attended the Black Caucus foundation’s awards dinner on Saturday and had a seat at the front row. Barack Obama was the keynote speaker at the dinner and he singled her out with a quip that she could sympathize with his wife’s lament of not getting paid. Mrs. Clinton smiled in response. Earlier in the day, members of the black caucus had been invited for a private reception by Mrs. Clinton, which included 46 lawmakers. However, the equation could get considerably scrambled if Mr. Biden decides to jump into the race.

According to people close to him, he could become the winner as he has spent years on building relationships in South Carolina. But, if Mrs. Clinton is able to boost her numbers in New Hampshire and Iowa, Mr. Biden will not be able to take advantage of his relationship with South Carolina for the path to victory. As compared to Mrs. Clinton, Vermont’s Mr. Sanders has acknowledged that the problem is greater for him as he comes from a mostly white state and isn’t recognized by the blacks. He made a double edged move by appointing Cornel West as his ambassador of the black community as the academic’s criticism of Barack Obama alienated some African-American leaders.

Last spring, offices were opened by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign in South Carolina and hundreds of one-on-one meetings and grass root events were held throughout the summer. Almost 100,000 Democrats had already been contacted by her team in the state and had also gotten endorsements from numerous officials and gained volunteers. In the elections of 2008, the black voters had supported Mr. Obama and he had defeated Mrs. Clinton 55% to 27% in South Carolina. This time, Mrs. Clinton hopes to turn the tide in her favor with Mr. Obama not on the ballot. 

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