How will the Democratic candidates try to score points against each other in tonight’s debate in Brooklyn? Will they spar over which one is more concerned about blacks?
While Hillary Clinton is still the Democratic frontrunner, Sen. Bernie Sanders seems to have momentum. New York is the next primary state for both parties. According to the socialist senator’s campaign, 27,000 people showed up at his rally last night in the city, a claim the Clinton campaign downplayed.
Clinton leads in national and New York polls (at the time of publication). She and Sen. Sanders both have ties to New York. Clinton is a former U.S. senator for the state and has a house in Chappaqua, and Sen. Sanders was born and raised in Brooklyn.
Among other things, Sen. Sanders accused Clinton of avoiding more debates, which she denied. Sen. Sanders said Clinton wasn’t qualified to be president, but he later backpedaled.
In the run-up to the debate and next week’s primary, Clinton and Sen. Sanders visited Al Sharpton, known for his role in the Tawana Brawley rape hoax, to garner support from black voters. From the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Sanders has won a string of caucuses and primaries in largely white states, but the next, critical contest is in New York, where about a third of voters are expected to be nonwhite.
Mr. Sanders is airing two TV spots in New York featuring prominent African-Americans. He sharply rebuked former President Bill Clinton after Mr. Clinton clashed with black protesters over the 1994 crime bill.
“He’s always been on the right side of history,” said Olivier Plummer, 18, of Queens, who plans to cast his first ballot for Mr. Sanders. He carried a sign saying that he supports the Vermont senator because “black lives always mattered– not just when it became election year.”
Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said that Mr. Sanders had made inroads with younger black voters, such as Mr. Plummer. But Mrs. Clinton continues to win the majority of African-American votes. Mr. Sanders’s best showing so far came in Missouri, but even there Mrs. Clinton won two-thirds of the black vote. In Southern states, her margin of victory was overwhelming. In Alabama, for example, she took 91% of the black vote.
At least 90 percent of black voters will choose the Democratic candidate, no matter who he or she is, but the “black vote” will help determine who wins the nomination. Clinton likely will win this demographic.