Biden sees black support erode to Bloomberg

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s struggling presidential campaign is in serious danger of seeing its support from black voters erode, and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg may be the biggest beneficiary. 

A survey from Quinnipiac University Poll released Monday offered a huge warning sign. It found black support for Bloomberg surging to 22 percent, with Biden’s support falling to 27 percent.

While Biden, who has centered his campaign on his support from black voters, was still in the lead, it was by a much more narrow margin after he finished a distant fourth place in the Iowa caucuses.

“This spells trouble for the VP,” said one Democratic strategist who is unaffiliated with any of the presidential campaigns.

The former vice president has long argued that he is the only candidate in the Democratic race who can replicate the so-called Obama coalition and draw support from across the party. 

But that idea had already been punctured by his deep struggles with winning over young voters, and the recent move by black voters is an even deeper problem.

Biden has been telegraphing a poor result in tonight’s New Hampshire primary while arguing he remains the favorite in South Carolina, which will hold its primary at the end of the month. Black voters will be a force in that state.

Yet the recent struggles suggest Biden must bolster his support from black voters as soon as possible.

In a sign that Biden’s campaign recognizes the danger, the vice president canceled planned events in New Hampshire on Tuesday to head to South Carolina.

Democratic strategist Joel Payne said Biden’s rocky start is “causing a lack of confidence among black voters.”

“There’s no passion candidate, no one who is really galvanizing the spirit of black voters like Barack Obama so broadly speaking, they’re behaving in a very transactional fashion,” Payne said. 

Biden has centered his campaign on the argument that he is the most electable candidate to take on Trump, but the fourth-place finish in Iowa called that into question.

Bloomberg, who is spending hundreds of millions on ads ahead of the primaries and Super Tuesday, is set to pounce, arguing to black people and other voters that he is the candidate to defeat Trump.

“Bloomberg feels more of a sure thing,” Payne said.

Biden allies say it’s too soon to say how the race will play out. But one longtime aide said the campaign “feels very good about our support among black voters.”

“He has a proven track record and a long history with the community,” the aide said. 

Bloomberg has long faced questions about his own appeal to black voters given his support for “stop and frisk” policies in New York.

On Tuesday, he was pushing back at Trump’s campaign after it circulated a 2015 speech the former New York City mayor made arguing for increased policing in black neighborhoods.

“Ninety-five percent of murders, murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops,” Bloomberg said in the speech. “They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city … And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed.

“So one of the unintended consequences is people say, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is,” he said.

Bloomberg sought to defend his record and distance himself from the speech in a statement issued Friday.

“I inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused,” he said. “By the time I left office, I cut it back by 95 percent, but I should’ve done it faster and sooner. I regret that and I have apologized — and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on Black and Latino communities.”

Bloomberg then pivoted to Trump, with an answer meant to appeal to black voters.

“In contrast, President Trump inherited a country marching towards greater equality and divided us with racist appeals and hateful rhetoric,” he said. “The challenge of the moment is clear: we must confront this President and do everything we can to defeat him.”

Tags Barack Obama Donald Trump Iowa Joe Biden Michael Bloomberg New Hampshire South Carolina
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