NEW YORK – Democrat longshot Bernie Sanders faces a major challenge of stealing the minority votes from Clinton. Minority voters are a major factor in New York’s electorate. In 2008, they cast more than 30% of the Democratic primary ballots. On Saturday, Sanders made a big push for the minority vote holding an event at the Apollo Theater in New York. Sanders addressed incarceration rates, black unemployment, education, police brutality and infrastructure in inner cities.
The event was moderated by filmmaker Spike Lee and also featured singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner and Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner. Sanders, who rarely addresses his religion, referred to his Jewish heritage when talking about tackling racism. He said that growing up knowing many people in his father’s family were killed during the Holocaust shaped his dedication to fighting racial injustice.
New York can give Sanders an opening for familiarity among minority voters. Sanders was born and raised. Other than New Hampshire, his best showing was in Wisconsin, where he captured 43 percent of the non-white vote. And other states have been abysmal for the senator. He won 7 percent of the non-white vote in Alabama, 11 percent in Mississippi and 19 percent in Georgia. And its hard to construct a persuasive superdelegate argument for the Vermont senator if he can’t find a way to win a voter group that is such a big part of the Democratic Party.
Clinton has won the white vote in 10 of the 21 states for which there are Democratic exit polls. And in some states she has won with large percentages. She captured 68 percent of the white vote in Mississippi, 58 percent in Georgia and 57 percent in Texas and Virginia. But the numbers suggest Sanders has work to do in the next week. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll in New York shows him leading Mrs. Clinton among Latinos narrowly – 51 percent to 47 percent, but trailing badly among African American voters in the state (28 percent to 68 percent).