Posted on February 29, 2020

Why Black Voters Are Turning to Bloomberg

Marcus Johnson, Forward, February 18, 2020


Despite the narrative that’s quickly developing about Bloomberg buying the election, the truth is, what has set Bloomberg apart is not his lavish spending but his willingness to court black voters.

While Sanders was showcasing an endorsement from the controversial Joe Rogan, Bloomberg was pouring millions of dollars into ads targeting black people across the country. The ads contained messages about generational wealth — and the barriers in the black community to attaining it.

This messaging seems to be working; he’s received a fairly warm reception from black mayors and legislators across the country. {snip}


The endorsements from black officials have been backed up with a surge in black voter support, mostly coming from those formerly supporting Joe Biden. According to a Quinnipiac national poll earlier this month, Bloomberg is receiving 22% of the black vote nationally, second only to Biden’s 27%, putting him ahead of Sanders (19%), Warren (8%), and Buttigieg (4%).

Bloomberg has also polled ahead of Sanders with black voters in GeorgiaFlorida, and North Carolina.

This might seem perplexing. After all, Bloomberg has become notorious for the stop-and-frisk program from his time as mayor of New York City. The program disproportionately stopped young black and Latino men, and was eventually ruled unconstitutional.

To understand why black voters and legislators have increasingly supported Bloomberg over more liberal Democratic Primary challengers, one has to bear in mind that black voters are not nearly as ideologically left as white voters in the Democratic Party. White Democrats are less likely to be religious, more likely to hold progressive views on healthcare and education, and more likely to want an open immigration policy in comparison to black Democrats. {snip}

Black voters also tend not to oppose “establishment” candidates, since the Democratic establishment was instrumental in securing Civil Rights era political victories. {snip}

In a similar vein, black voters don’t have the same hangups about billionaires that many white progressives do. In fact, black people tend to admire black billionaires like Jay-Z and Oprah who have overcome adversity to create generational wealth.

All of this makes black voters more inclined to vote for a moderate establishment Democrat over a far-left progressive challenger, something you can see reflected in the 2020 endorsements from members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Of the 25 Congressional Black Caucus presidential endorsements given out this cycle, 18 have gone to Biden and four have gone to Bloomberg. Sanders and Warren have only gotten one each.

It’s true, Mike Bloomberg is a flawed candidate. But here’s the thing: black voters have had to vote for flawed candidates for virtually their entire lives. {snip}

{snip} Black voters aren’t choosing someone with an unblemished record on race, because that person doesn’t exist in the 2020 Democratic primary. {snip}


{snip} If Biden collapses, it is likely that Bloomberg will benefit more than any other 2020 candidate. Bloomberg could potentially come into the summer convention with delegates from across the south due to his increasing strength with black voters. And in a potentially contested convention, who knows what the outcome would be?