FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
So. Who DOES get the African-American vote in the primaries this cycle?
I’m forced to ask a question in response to this thesis by Josh Kraushaar: “Hillary Clinton is a near-lock for the Democratic nomination for many reasons, but among the most significant is that her challengers have minimal appeal to the party’s base of African-American voters.” …All well and good; but what’s her appeal to those voters, exactly? I mean, don’t get me wrong: I understand that, lacking an obviously good choice, many voters default to the front-runner; but what’s going to get African-American voters off of their couches and into the voting booths to vote in the primary?
This is not a trivial question: while Josh does note at the end of the essay that “if [Hillary Clinton's] winning non-white voters in the primary by default—running against old white men with limited ties to the rising Democratic electorate—she could face a rude awakening next November” it still doesn’t mean that Clinton’s going to get enthusiastic support in the primaries. In fact, it really is arguing that Hillary Clinton can expect not to get enthusiastic support. And probably not much turnout.
This does not help Bernie Sanders – who is tied with Hillary Clinton for being the most white-bread candidate in the Democratic primary this year – and it certainly doesn’t help James Webb; but it might in fact help, say, Martin O’Malley. While I am always happy to insult my former Governor – he deserves it – it remains true that I expect O’Malley to win Maryland in exactly the way that I do not expect Webb to win Virginia. Which is to say, O’Malley has a chance, and Webb does not. Not the best chance, but a recognizable one. Does that mean that O’Malley might beat expectations in general? …Maybe.
Of course, the really interesting thing is this: what if Vice President Joe Biden really does run? Yes, he’s considering it – or at least being reported as considering it, because God loves me and wants me to be happy*. And while being the only candidate that’s more inextricably linked to the Obama administration than even Hillary Clinton is would be a insurmountable problem in the general election, it’s maybe not really a problem at all in the primary. An African-American voter who is legitimately proud of Barack Obama’s tenure in office very well might get off of that couch and go vote for Joe Biden**. And that would be… problematic… for pretty much every other Democratic candidate out there.
Ain’t that a shame?
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*If elected Joe Biden would be the oldest first-term President. He’ll be 81 in 2025, and – not to be blunt about it, but I will be – his family medical history shows that he’s a high risk for strokes and other neurological incidents. More to the point, he’s inextricably linked to an administration that hasn’t been popular in years. Which is probably why Biden originally decided not to run anyway.
**Mind you, said voter might be even more inclined to go out and vote for a minority Democratic candidate for President, but Barack Obama has been pure career death on Democratic politicians in general, and non-white-old-dude Democratic politicians in particular.