An awkward reality for Bernie Sanders: A strategy focused on whiter states
What took you so long?”
The question, posed to Sen. Bernie Sanders this week by a local newspaper editor about his first visit last month to the majority-black city of Flint, Mich., cut to the heart of his struggles to engage black voters and compete with frontrunner Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
An awkward reality has defined the nominating contest between Sanders and Clinton this year: his failure to win over African American voters — or the states where they represent large portions of the electorate. As a result, Sanders in recent weeks has focused almost exclusively on winning in whiter states, where his campaign has resonated among younger and working-class voters.
It’s not how Sanders wanted it to be. A longtime civil rights proponent who marched on Washington in 1963, Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist who believes that his central promise to combat income inequality would benefit African Americans at least as much as anyone else.
“He’s running against somebody very well-known in the African American community,” said Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs. “He started off 10 months ago with almost no name recognition and no support. We think we’re making progress, but clearly we have more work to do.”