Black Democrats overwhelmingly support Joe Biden to be the party's next presidential nominee: poll

While Biden is the No. 1 choice among seniors, Sanders tops the former vice president among millennials

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2019 9:06AM (EDT)

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

A new survey reveals that black voters overwhelmingly support former Vice President Joe Biden to be the Democratic Party's next presidential nominee. However, many voters in this crucial bloc also back one of his chief rivals for the nomination: Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

"Joe Biden has amassed a staggering lead among older African-Americans, commanding nearly two-thirds support of black voters 65 and older in the most recent Morning Consult poll," Politico reported on Tuesday. "Bernie Sanders is the favorite of black millennials, though his margin with that group is much smaller. Among all black voters, Biden is leading Sanders, 41 percent to 20 percent."

The article later elaborated, "In the Morning Consult poll, black voters 65 and older back Biden over Sanders by 56 percentage points, 63 percent to 7 percent. Sanders, meanwhile, is beating Biden by 12 points among African Americans younger than 30."

South Carolina Democratic strategist and former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton Antjuan Seawright told Politico that the strong showings posted by Biden and Sanders within the African-American community should not be accepted as definitive.

"When you think about Cory Booker, when you think about Kamala Harris, when you think about Elizabeth Warren and others, one thing I've learned is that when you count people out, they usually teach you that you don't know how to count," Seawright explained.

Booker is a senator from New Jersey, Harris is a senator from California and Warren is a senator from Massachusetts; Warren is well-known for her progressive ideology, while both Booker and Harris have African-American heritage.

Salon's Chauncey DeVega argued in June that African-Americans support for Biden can be explained by pragmatism, particularly the fact that Biden consistently performs better against President Donald Trump than any of his other prominent rivals.

"Unlike many white Democratic voters who feel free to indulge in purity tests as they search for a perfect candidate, Black America is pragmatic," DeVega wrote. "To that end, black voters know that removing Donald Trump is the most important goal, much larger than any narrow set of interests. Like any other group, however, black voters are not a hive mind. As Hillary Clinton learned in 2016, black folks' enthusiasm for a given candidate is not fixed. Biden should learn that lesson early, rather than taking the support of black voters for granted and regretting such an error in political calculus later on."

Biden has aroused controversy for invoking his past willingness to work with segregationists, such as Sens. James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia. In June, he bragged to an audience that "I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me 'boy,' he always called me 'son.' Well guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you're the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don't talk to each other anymore."

When confronted by Booker about the subtext of his remarks, Biden defended himself by asking, "Apologize for what? Cory should apologize. He knows better. There's not a racist bone in my body. I've been involved in civil rights my whole career."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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