The role of race in the Democratic race

For the Globe and Mail, I wrote about fractures in the Democratic Party and a disturbing racial divide in the Sanders-Clinton race:

Mr. Sanders did not create the antipathy toward the Democratic Party, but he reflects it and capitalizes on it.

The results of the Democratic primaries, however, have revealed a disturbing trend. It is easy to predict whether Mr. Sanders or Ms. Clinton will win a state. You only need to look at the state’s percentage of black voters. If the number is higher than 10 per cent, the state will go to Ms. Clinton. If the number is less than 10 per cent, it will go to Mr. Sanders. The fewer black voters in the state, the higher his margin of victory usually is. Only four states have bucked this pattern: Iowa, Michigan, Kentucky and Arizona, where Ms. Clinton won largely due to Latino voters.

This racial divide is unprecedented in primary history. It is much starker than the 2008 contest between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama, where Mr. Obama won not only the heavily black south but also whiter, rural states. His diverse coalition included enthusiastic black, Latino, female and young voters of all classes. In most primaries this time around, Ms. Clinton tends to win every demographic group but two: white men of all ages and white youth, the latter of which vote overwhelmingly for Mr. Sanders.

The Sanders campaign has made a number of controversial statements about black voters, from describing southern states where black Democrats voted for Ms. Clinton as “the Confederacy,” to implying that black people live in “ghettos,” antagonizing black intellectuals with patronizing comments, and separating black voters from the “working-class people” whose interests Mr. Sanders claims to champion.

This latter belief, first articulated in 2014, is one of the most troubling aspects of Mr. Sanders’s campaign, as it dovetails with the overtly racist rhetoric of Mr. Trump, who is courting Mr. Sanders’s fans. Instead of reaching out to diverse voters, Mr. Sanders argues that he is a stronger candidate to beat Mr. Trump based on polls that show his white support.

Read the whole article here

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