The Democratic Race Beyond the Duopoly

Most of the chatter about the Democratic presidential contest in the last couple of weeks has involved Hillary Clinton’s resurgence in Iowa and New Hampshire polls, generally attributed to her strong performance in the Benghazi! hearings and the subsequent positive media attention, and to Joe Biden’s decision to stay out of the race. She’s now regularly waxing Bernie Sanders in IA surveys, and pulling even with him in his near-native NH.

But perhaps the even better news for Clinton may come from fresh polling in states outside the duopoly: states like SC, where a new Winthrop College poll has HRC leading Sanders 71/15. Worse yet for Team Bernie, given the candidate’s recent efforts to focus on the priorities of minority–and especially African-American–voters, HRC leads Sanders among African-Americans in SC by 80-8. That’s ten-to-one, folks.

Sorry to be redundant about this, but a left-bent challenge to the Democratic Establishment is not going to succeed without doing a whole lot better than that among minority voters. This really needs to become Job One for the Sanders campaign, and what makes that tricky, of course, is that SC won’t even matter if he gets beaten badly in the first two states, which are are white as a Taylor Swift concert.

Some of you may have read Matt Taibbi’s bitter rant today about “political gatekeepers,” including political media, keeping Bernie Sanders down and out by dismissing his chances. There’s undoubtedly some truth to that, but on the other hand, a candidate who cannot win more than 8% of African-American voters running against a candidate Taibbi considers an obvious sell-out to The Man (and married to The Man to boot) probably needs to assume some of the blame his own self.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.