Black votes matter and the Clinton Sanders tug of war

Christian Alvarez, Copy Editor

Former Sec. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), both distinguished politicians in their own right, are now drastically promoting their public relations with the intricate subgroups of the Democratic party as the primary elections reach its peak.

Candidates tend to be more idealistic during the primaries in comparison to the general election because they try to garner people mostly from their own parties and not so much the general population of a state. If a candidate focuses more on the fundamentals of a party’s platform and how it coincides with current sociopolitical and economic issues, they are more likely to be successful in gaining delegates in the primary elections.

Having ran a campaign against incumbent president Barack Obama in 2008, Hillary Clinton is no stranger to the idealistic approach that is generally practiced in the primaires. Additionally, contrary to the belief that Sanders is running a completely unprecedented and revolutionary campaign, the once independent senator from Vermont is also employing a primary-specific kind of rhetoric in addressing his constituents. Sanders’ target audiences include the young adults and working class of America. Therefore, his agenda and speech always has to pertain to government provided benefits, such as free education and healthcare, as well as wealth distribution within the nation.

Although the support of the different subgroups of the Democratic party is easily interchangeable between the two candidates, there is one particular group that proves to be key in several states like North Carolina — the black vote (Washington Post).

Clinton, as of late, seems to have the edge on Black voters, having dominated in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, states in which Black voters comprise a majority of the voting population (Politico). Clinton’s inherent dominance over Sanders in the southern states might not entirely be due to her appeal to Black voters in respect to the Black Lives Matter movement or any other civil rights strife. Clinton’s strong name recognition and pre-existing ties in those states might also be a determining factor for her strong approval in the southern half of the U.S. (Washington Post).

It is interesting to see how much Sanders has struggled with garnering Black votes, considering half of his life’s work revolves around fighting for civil liberties and rights of all people, African-Americans especially ( In 2002, he achieved a 93 percent rating from the ACLU and a 97 percent rating by the NAACP in 2006.

Despite all of Sanders’ work, he still barely grazes Clinton in the states in which the Black vote particularly make a difference. Sanders has lost out on hundreds of delegates as a result. While the reasoning for Sanders’ struggle remain abstract, one thing remains concrete – whichever candidate has the Black vote has a significant advantage over the opposition because it increases the number of delegates dedicated to the candidate.