Bernie Sanders Had A Problem With Black Voters In 2016. He Doesn’t Want A Repeat

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Written by Ann Brown
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., attends a House and Senate conference after GOP leaders announced they have forged an agreement on a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax laws, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Democrats objected to the bill and asked that a final vote be delayed until Sen.-elect Doug Jones of Alabama is seated. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Bernie Sanders is making a bid again for President. He is one of a slew of Democrats making the news. Many thought his last run in 2016 had a real shot until it was sidelined by, some say, the Democratic Party’s favoring and helping Hillary Clinton over him.

Still, even though Sanders was gaining major momentum in 2016, he failed to attract large numbers of  Black voters.

“Sanders had a problem with Black voters in the 2016 Democratic primary, losing them by a whopping 50 percentage point margin to the party’s eventual nominee, Hillary Clinton,” NBC News reported.

“Bernie’s always stumbled on issues of race and his use of class as a catch-all gives the impression that he’s either unable or unwilling to address the specific concerns of African-Americans or he’s trying to avoid what he feels is identity politics,” Basil Smikle, a former executive director of the New York State Democratic Party, told NBC News.

In fact, in 2016 exit polls showed he won only 14 percent of South Carolina’s Black vote in 2016. Clinton received 86 percent of that state’s Black vote.

“Shortly after Senator Bernie Sanders suffered a crushing loss in South Carolina’s Democratic primary in 2016, his campaign’s African-American outreach team sent a memo to top campaign leaders with an urgent warning,” the New York Times reported.

The memo said: “The margin by which we lost the African-American vote has got to be — at the very least — cut in half or there simply is no path to victory.”

His team then outlined a strategy for winning Black voters that included using social media influencers. And it seems like now, in 2019, he is using this strategy that was planned out back during his last run.

Sanders has already started speaking to large Black crowds and trying to relate to the Black community. Most recently during one speech, “Sanders recalled his efforts to desegregate housing as a student at the University of Chicago in the 1960s and read a list of names of young Black men killed in police shootings, including Laquan McDonald, whose death at the hands of a Chicago police officer in 2014 sparked outrage and protests across the city,” NBC News reported.

When the final vote is in, it will be shown whether or not Sanders has the winning strategy for attracting Black voters.


About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire.com, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.