It looks like there will be no black, and indeed no non-white, candidates on the debate stage this month when the leading Democratic contenders square off in Iowa. That’s because no non-white candidate has met the objective criteria, including popularity in polls, for participating.
According to the Washington Post, “critics say” that the all-white debate stage “threatens to undercut the party’s rhetoric of inclusivity.” But are rank-and-file black Democrats distressed by the absence of debaters who share their skin color?
I doubt it. Black Democrats have not supported black presidential candidates in this cycle. They prefer the very white Joe Biden.
The latest poll of black Dems nationally finds Biden with 48 percent of the support. Bernie Sanders, at 20 percent, is the only other candidate in double figures. Cory Booker comes in fifth with a meager 4 percent. I don’t assume that blacks will regret the absence on stage of a candidate they have resoundingly rejected.
The fact is that if black Democrats supported Booker in large numbers, he would be on the stage. If they had supported Kamala Harris in large numbers, she wouldn’t have seen the need to quit the race, and she would be on the stage.
But black Democrats seem to be largely color blind when it comes to evaluating this cycle’s crop of candidates. Bless them for that.
Equally praiseworthy is the fact that they seem to be unmoved by any form of identity politics. Two old white men — Biden and Sanders — are their top picks. Elizabeth Warren garnered only 9 percent of black support in the poll cited above. That’s only slightly more than half of her number among all Democrats.
White feminists may be heavy into Warren. Black women clearly are not.
Looking at these poll results, Dan Balz, the Post’s most widely respected political analyst, suggests that this year’s quest for the Democratic nomination boils down to a struggle between the party’s “progressive wing” and its “African-American wing.” There’s something to that.
I will say this: If there’s a comparatively sane lane in which to gain traction in this year’s primary race, it’s thanks to African-American Democrats.
Nearly all of the smartest people I know have been saying that Joe Biden won’t be the nominee. They may be right.
However, recent history suggests that black Democrats get the nominee they prefer. This year, they prefer Joe Biden, and by a wide margin.