As Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders turn their attention to South Carolina, one of the Democrats' next nominating contests, both candidates have amped up their African-American outreach in hopes of winning over voters.
Since the beginning of this year’s contest, it’s been assumed that Hillary Clinton holds the upper hand with minority voters. Polls have shown her with a huge advantage among black voters, in particular, and in Iowa she won the nonwhite vote by 24 points.
But with Sanders’s huge win in New Hampshire, Clinton supporters are concerned he may start peeling away black votes as well. On Wednesday morning, Sanders dined with Rev. Al Sharpton, and later that day he picked up the support of acclaimed Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates.
In response, the Congressional Black Caucus's political action committee has decided to formally back Clinton, a coup for the candidate, who stands to gain tremendously from CBC lawmakers stumping for her in black communities across the primary map.
The CBC PAC announced the endorsement at an event in Washington, DC, on Thursday; Clinton did not attend.
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, a CBC member who is also one of two representatives to endorse sanders, pointed out that the endorsement technically came from the CBC's political arm, and the endorsement does not apply to every member of the group.
Cong'l Black Caucus (CBC) has NOT endorsed in presidential. Separate CBCPAC endorsed withOUT input from CBC membership, including me.— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) February 11, 2016
Following the announcement, half a dozen CBC members are expected to travel to South Carolina ahead of the Feb. 27 primary, notably including Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights activist.
The CBC's political action committee reportedly held off on announcing its endorsement out of deference to a key member, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, who wanted to remain neutral. According to the Washington Post’s Paul Kane, Clyburn is expected to endorse Clinton as well.