By Moses Kamuiru.
African American voters were credited for handing Hillary Clinton a victory in the South Carolina Democratic primary. According to exit polls, more than 80% of blacks in the state voted for Hillary Clinton. If that trend holds, she could have a great day on Super Tuesday, when several states in her Southern “firewall” several of which have substantial black populations will vote. There are a lot of reasons for her strength with this demographic: her name recognition, her record and her politics, for example. But it’s not just her; the, Clintons are simply popular among African-Americans.
It’s true that Bill Clinton enjoyed heavy support from the black community in the 1990s. But as Hillary Clinton seeks the nomination herself, some are raising questions about just how good the Clinton presidency was for black Americans not to mention whether Hillary Clinton should get any credit (or, alternatively, blame) for her husband’s legacy.
Why African American Voter loved President Bill Clinton
History has misunderstood the first African American president idea. President Clinton’s treatment in the public arena, especially following the Monica Lewinsky scandal (“I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp”). But history has decided that the quote is a compliment, a way to talk about Clinton’s popularity with African American voters. And that popularity, at least, is undisputed. The New York Times editorial board in 1992, reflecting on the fact that Clinton won 75 percent of the black vote on Super Tuesday, gushed about America’s advances against racism.
A hard run for President Bush
Governor Clinton went on to win the Democratic nomination, and gave President Bush a hard run in the fall. But either way, that one figure gives healthy evidence, probably for the first time since Robert Kennedy’s Indiana primary campaign in 1968, that it is politically possible to bring poor blacks and blue-collar white voters together. It is finally possible for Americans to transcend racial division and look instead to mutual interest. What drove that popularity? In part, it was regionalism. Clinton did particularly well among Southern African-Americans, and the fact that he was from Arkansas probably helped him.
Work with a high-profile president
Still, Clinton has her own legacy to run on. Her campaign was touting parts of this in ads, her legal aid work, for example. She also benefits from her work with another high-profile president. Voters who liked and defended Obama also saw Clinton as an extension of his legacy. All of this got to the complexity of choosing a candidate not to mention the fact that no group is a monolith. Many older Democratic voters of any race appreciated Clinton’s rhetoric on strengthening Social Security. Many women (and men) of any ethnicity appreciated that she was to become the first female president. Likewise, young voters of all colors are felt the Bern.
You can read more of this story here.
Photo credits: www.slate.com