Former Vice President Joe Biden — once the national frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primary — may have come in second behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Nevada caucuses, but he still has one thing going for him: the support of black voters.
Biden trailed Sanders — who, with more than 60 percent of precincts reporting, appears to have won big with about 40 percent of the vote — as the state’s second-place finisher with about 19 percent of the vote. Biden is currently projected to win two delegates from the caucuses.
According to early entrance polls from the Washington Post, the former vice president came in second with Latinx voters, with 17 percent support among that group and tied with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Elizabeth Warren for third place with white voters at 14 percent.
But the entrance polls show there was one thing Biden was right about when talking about his coalition in Nevada ahead of the caucuses: his strong lead with black voters. Biden received the most black votes, 39 percent. It’s a demographic with which Sanders trailed the former vice president, winning 27 percent of that vote. This suggests that although other candidates are slowly chipping away at his black voter base — most recently, Mike Bloomberg has seen a rise in black support — Biden remains a popular candidate among the demographic.
Overall, however, the Nevada caucuses were a disappointing outcome for Biden, who struggled in Iowa and New Hampshire’s contests and was banking on better results once the primary moved to a state with a more diverse electorate. Sanders, however, overwhelmingly won among Latinx voters, with 51 percent of that vote (this particular demographic group makes up 18 percent of Nevada’s voters). The senator is expected to win 13 delegates from Saturday, putting him in the lead. Biden, meanwhile, currently lingers at 8 delegates.
And although the entrance polls feature good news for Biden about his black support in the state, the former vice president can’t become complacent about his support from black voters, considering there’s a significant generation gap among the group, according to Vox’s Li Zhou:
Younger black voters who spoke with Vox have emphasized that they are interested in more ambitious policies than the ones Biden has championed. Many older black voters also cited Biden’s work alongside former President Barack Obama as a major asset, though younger voters did not weigh these efforts as strongly.
“I think there’s a generational gap between younger African Americans and older African Americans,” South Carolina state Rep. Kambrell Garvin, a Warren surrogate, previously told Vox. “Younger African Americans like Joe Biden, but a lot of us aren’t supportive of Joe Biden, because we want a change in policies. We aren’t looking to tinker around the edges.”
Still, Biden’s lead among black voters in Nevada shows why Biden remains hopeful about the next stop: South Carolina. He’s maintained a strong lead in the state where black voters make up 60 percent of South Carolina’s Democratic electorate, and he’s hoping for a change in the narrative about the state of the primary with a big win.