Monday, April 8, 2013

Poll: Clinton vs. Biden is close among blacks

Whites pick Hillary over Biden by 47%, but blacks only prefer her by 8% (photo: White House: Sonya Hebert)

Lots of fascinating results to get to in The Hill's new poll out this morning.

First, 32% of likely voters say Hillary Clinton would have been a better president than Barack Obama, while only 11% say she would have been worse. 45% say "about the same."

What's even more striking is that this extends to younger people, as well, who were among those responsible for nominating Obama over Hillary.

33% of those 18-39 years old say Hillary would've been a better choice than Obama, while just 15% say Obama was a better choice than Hillary. 37% say they'd be "about the same."

Barack Obama may yet turn into a liberal icon, but right now, he's being trumped by another.

But what's more interesting?

When asked which would be the better president, Hillary thrashes Joe Biden among whites, 56%-9%, but wins by a fairly weak 36%-28% among blacks. As The Hill notes, that could be due to Biden's relationship with Obama's presidency.

But this speaks to something I wrote about earlier this year.

Yes, Hillary would win blacks big in a general election, but despite the narrative that Bill was the first black president, he didn't score abnormal black support in either of his presidential wins.

In fact, Clinton only scored 83% and 84% of blacks in 1992 and 1996, respectively. Of course, Ross Perot was a significant third party candidate, but Perot + GOP nominee nabbed a combined 17% and 16% of the vote, respectively, both years.

As to the current, black split between Hillary and Biden -- history suggests that blacks will break big for one or the other in the primary rather than divide their support.

Michael Barone wrote in 2008:

History supports the proposition that black voters tend to vote overwhelmingly for one candidate in Democratic primaries, even when that candidate's rival has valid claims on their votes. Case in point: In polls, Robert Kennedy swept the black vote against Hubert Humphrey in 1968, despite Humphrey's long and valiant fight for civil rights laws.

If memory serves, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton also got the lion's share of black votes in primaries in 1976 and 1992. Having attended black political events over the years, I remember how often I would hear speakers calling for "unity." Uniting in support of one candidate is a rational strategy for achieving political leverage for members of a minority group (although it can deprive them of all leverage if that candidate is one no one else will vote for: for example, Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988). It seems that in this cycle, black voters, once they saw from the results of the Iowa caucuses that white people would vote for Obama, went en masse for Obama.