Yesterday, I discussed Pete Buttigieg’s impressive surge in Iowa, but noted that will face a big, if not insuperable, barrier when the primaries come to states with a large number of African-American voters. The first of those states is South Carolina where, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, Buttigieg’s support among black voters is zero percent.
Buttigieg’s rivals have attacked Buttigieg over police practices in South Bend and his response, as mayor of that small city, to complaints by members of the African-American community. I doubt, though, that this is to blame for his invisible level of black support in South Carolina.
Buttigieg may now be more than just a flavor of the month candidate, but he still lacks a substantial track record. That’s probably fine with a fair number of young white voters, but it’s not likely to impress blacks, a less flighty voting bloc.
There is also the matter of Buttigieg’s sexuality. Many black voters, especially older ones who reliably show up at the polls, find it objectionable. They also tend to prefer candidates who are more authentic than Mayor Pete. Joe Biden has been shedding authenticity at a rapid rate, but still comes across as more authentic than Buttigieg. So do Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
And now, Buttigieg may face a new problem as he tries to court black voters. The portion of his website that touts his plan to help black America used stock photos of blacks, including a woman from Kenya.
I’m not sure what’s wrong with this. Candidates use stock photos all the time. Is this practice only permitted when the photos are of whites?
As long as Buttigieg didn’t claim that these individuals support him — and he didn’t — why should it matter that he used a stock photos next to stock statements that blacks are disproportionately harmed by this or that practice? The answer is, it shouldn’t.
As further evidence that what Buttigieg did is okay, I cite the following tweet by Rep. Ilhan Omar: “This is not ok or necessary.”
Okay or not, Buttigieg has deleted the stock photos from his website and issued something approaching an apology, or maybe approaching a non-apology apology. Meanwhile, social media buzzed briefly over this matter.
Some of Buttigieg’s lesser rivals attacked him for his use of stock photos. Kamala Harris, who has been overtaken by Mayor Pete and others, said that when it comes to these photos “words fail me.” They have failed her frequently in the past two months.
What will the effect of this pseudo-scandal be on Buttigieg’s standing with black voters? Little or none, I predict, and not just because he can’t go any lower than zero with this group in the polls.