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Response to TM99 (Reply #78)

Fri Jul 24, 2015, 11:45 AM

79. Bernie Sanders a Virtual Unknown Among Black Voters

You're absolutely right: its all me.

Bernie Sanders a Virtual Unknown Among Black Voters

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/25/us/politics/bernie-sanders-lags-hillary-clinton-in-introducing-himself-to-black-voters.html?_r=0

By PATRICK HEALY and JONATHAN MARTINJUNE 24, 2015



Blacks, a crucial constituency in Democratic presidential races, have been absent from Senator Bernie
Sanders’s campaign events. Credit Win McNamee/Getty Images


Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is climbing in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, and he has drawn thousands of people to rallies for his presidential campaign recently in Denver and Minneapolis. But the shooting last week in Charleston, S.C., has highlighted a daunting obstacle he faces in the Democratic primary contest: Black voters have shown little interest in him.

Even his own campaign advisers acknowledge that Mr. Sanders is virtually unknown to many African-Americans, an enormously important Democratic constituency.

Though he led sit-ins as a civil rights activist in the 1960s, helped the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. pull off a surprising campaign victory in Vermont in 1988, and espouses liberal policy ideas broadly popular with many Democrats, Mr. Sanders has had little direct experience with black voters as a politician in a state that is 95 percent white. And they have been largely absent from his campaign events so far.



Mr. Sanders, 73, had planned to start introducing himself to larger numbers of African-Americans last Sunday at a large gathering in Charleston, but he quickly postponed the event after the church killings. The massacre also revived debate over a highly charged issue on which Mr. Sanders has a mixed record: gun control.


Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said on the Senate floor on Tuesday that the country has a long way to go in terms of civil rights, and he mentioned his own experiences protesting segregation. By YouTube/Bernie Sanders on Publish Date June 24, 2015. Photo by David Becker/Associated Press. Watch in Times Video »

Hillary Rodham Clinton is working assiduously to cement her support among black voters. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this week, 95 percent of nonwhite Democratic voters said they could see themselves supporting Mrs. Clinton for the nomination in the primary. Only about one-quarter of respondents said they could see themselves voting for Mr. Sanders.

And Mrs. Clinton is hardly sitting still: She has spoken out assertively on race relations and gun control over the past week, and she visited a black church on Tuesday near Ferguson, Mo., where the killing of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in August ignited protests.

Mr. Sanders has lamented “the ugly stain of racism that still taints our nation,” but he has yet to take the subject on in a forceful way.

Given the makeup of the Democratic primary electorate, Mr. Sanders’s capacity to win support among blacks represents a test of his relevance: It will help determine whether he can drain many votes from Mrs. Clinton or is bound to be merely a nuisance candidate with a following among the most ideologically driven liberal whites.

Mr. Sanders’s advisers concede that Mrs. Clinton is more familiar and popular among black Democrats, but they say his background and views will allow him to speak credibly to African-Americans in places like Charleston, Ferguson and elsewhere. His struggle, they say, is to introduce himself swiftly and on a broad scale so his remarks resonate and have an effect.
Continue reading the main story
What Bernie Sanders Would Need to Do to Win

“We’re reaching out, but it’s no secret that Bernie represents a state that is heavily Caucasian, and his decades of work on issues of importance to African-Americans aren’t known amid the national conversation on race that is underway,” said Jeff Weaver, Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager. “I don’t think it’s presumptuous of him to speak out on these issues. And his message — the need for more good-paying jobs, and opening up higher education regardless of wealth and family background — will have strong appeal with African-Americans and many other voters.”

The challenge facing Mr. Sanders as a Ben & Jerry’s candidate seeking the nomination of President Obama’s party was on vivid display last month in Burlington, Vt., at his first campaign rally.

Nearly all the speakers who preceded him — including the two ice cream entrepreneurs — were white, as were nearly all the supporters, many of them in tie-dyed clothes, who packed a park on the shores of Lake Champlain. His jeremiads about campaign-finance overhaul and climate change inspired cheers and ovations. But he made no mention of problems of deep concern to many African-Americans, like policing, gun control, racial inequities or the high numbers of black men in prison.

“The Bernie Sanders voter is still a Volvo-driving, financially comfortable liberal who is pretty much white,” said Paul Maslin, a pollster who worked for the 2004 presidential campaign of Vermont’s last Democratic contender, Howard Dean. “I don’t see how Bernie takes large numbers of black voters away from Hillary Clinton, and he needs to if he wants any shot at the nomination.”

David Axelrod, formerly Mr. Obama’s chief strategist, noted that insurgent Democrats like Gary Hart and Mr. Dean who were able to win over many white voters fell short because they could not attract blacks.


Supporters at Mr. Sanders's first campaign rally last month in Burlington, Vt. His events have drawn predominantly white crowds. Credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

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