The Bernie 50 State Strategy Series: South Carolina, The Black Vote, And Victory

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TL;DR Sanders needs to campaign heavily and spend hard but he only needs to hit an average of 30-35% in Southern states to win. Also jump below the break to avoid the 2016 facts recap and skip right to 2020.

Its times to talk about one of the most divisive issues from the 2016 election. Bernie Sanders and the black vote. Bernie Sanders received approximately 28% of the black vote in the Democratic primaries. This caused him to fall behind in the Southern states as they voted early in the primary and never recover. Hillary Clinton organized the entire black establishment, with help from Barack Obama who not only endorsed her but frog marched Joe Biden into the Rose Garden, staying by his side the whole way so he wouldn't change his mind, to announce that he wouldn't run. Its highly like that in a 3 candidate race, sorry Martin, Bernie would have ended up with 20-25% of the vote and endorsed Joe Biden for some serious concessions to the progressive agenda.

90% of all black voters vote Democratic, 95% in the case of Barack Obama's historic 2008 victory. That means that a large majority of conservative black voters vote Democratic while a large majority of white conservatives vote Republican. Meanwhile we see a far larger proportion of Hispanic and Latino as well as Asian voters vote Republican. This neatly explains a lot of the variance between the support of black voters for Sanders and Asian and Hispanic voters. For obvious reasons Clinton received something like 95%+ of conservative non-white votes. Sanders for obvious reasons picked up a large percentage of progressive, leftist and liberal non-white votes. They then competed for the votes of liberal and moderate non-white voters. A similar divide occurs among white voters. 90% of conservative white voters and some smaller percentage of moderate white voters vote Republican. As such the white vote was stacked in the favor of Sanders even more than the non-black, non-white vote. Of course this is obvious, boring, doesn't support the centrist corporate narrative and doesn't generate clicks online. And most "neutral" political outlets lean towards the moderate side of the Democratic party. Whether the staff was ordered from on high doesn't matter because their personal prejudices came into play. 538 for instance was on the ball about demographics as far as votes and polls but as usual their attempts to be pundits failed totally. I choose not to name names but most of the people who added to this dynamic are pretty obvious even to a casual observer.


However the point of this post is not to re-litigate the 2016 primaries. Here is a table of delegate/vote share targets in the states I'm counting as Southern. Certain states are excluded as I'm putting them in other categories. In fact this post will briefly discuss the other states that many people might consider part of the South and what category I'm including them in instead and why.

The Core South:

State Delegate Total Bernie Delegate Target 2016 Delegate Total
Georgia 105 35%+ (40) Bernie 29[28.2%] (Hillary 73) 102 Total
South Carolina 54 25%+ (14) Bernie 14[26.0%] (Hillary 39) 53 Total
Louisiana 50 35%+ (17) Bernie 14[23.2%] (Hillary 37) 51 Total
Alabama 52 30%+ (17) Bernie 9[19.2%] (Hillary 44) 53 Total
Mississippi 36 35%+ (14) Bernie 5[16.6%] (Hillary 31) 36 Total

As you can see Bernie will have to significantly improve his totals to meet my delegate targets. You may wonder why South Carolina has the lowest delegate target and share of the vote, pretty much identical to 2016. That is because although unlike Iowa and New Hampshire Bernie can't pretty much ignore South Carolina it is an early state and will be heavily focused on. He will need to finish above 15% there so as not to get shut out of delegates but it would be way harder to push up his vote totals in South Carolina compared to other states. By campaigning in states he barely visited last time and especially focusing on Georgia, Bernie can efficiently contact voters who won't be inundated by negative ads and dealing with an overload of candidates showing up at the door. As I mentioned in a previous post, there is a decent increase in vote share available if you are one of one or two candidates that actually makes contact with most voters. And the other candidates won't be prepared for a large and active volunteer network with actual funding and campaign support behind it.

Now lets move on to the other states people might argue should be classified as in the South. First we'll do Texas and Florida. Delegate rich states that are technically in the South. However they have vastly larger Hispanic/Latino populations and are also much more likely to be swing states.

The Big Swing South:

State Delegate Total Bernie Delegate Target 2016 Delegate Total
Texas 228 40%+ (95) Bernie 75[33.2%] (Hillary 147) 222 Total
Florida 219 40%+ (90) Bernie 73[33.3%] (Hillary 141) 214 Total

Bernie contested these states much more heavily than any of the core Southern states. He did much better here due to his stronger Hispanic/Latino support and because he spent big and had lots of volunteers and he set up early on. Typically I am requiring Bernie to make up far less ground here than in Core Southern states because he started higher. These 2 states are where he has the most room for growth from my delegate targets. Since my targets put him 76 delegates short of a first round majority he'll need that expansion opportunity. Furthermore although there are potentially two strong Texas contenders I do not advise the same path as I did for California. These states vote later, are more friendly to Sanders and are also cheaper, though only in comparison to Florida. On top of that Florida is a certified swing state and Texas is trending strongly blue. The Democratic candidate who is a good fit for Texas and Florida gains a lot of credibility as a general election candidate. Also aside from Texas favored sons most candidates won't be able to spend freely like Sanders will or have the organization to power volunteer canvassing. Now we move to the last grouping.

The Outer South:

State Delegate Total Bernie Delegate Target 2016 Delegate Total
North Carolina 110 50%+ (60) Bernie 47[41.0%] (Hillary 60) 107 Total
Virginia 99 40%+ (40) Bernie 33[35.2%] (Hillary 62) 95 Total
Maryland 79 40%+ (30) Bernie 35[33.8%] (Hillary 60) 95 Total
Tennessee 64 60%+ (38) Bernie 23[32.5%] (Hillary 44) 67 Total
Kentucky 46 60%+ (28) Bernie 27[46.3%] (Hillary 28) 55 Total
Oklahoma 37 60%+ (24) Bernie 22[51.9%] (Hillary 18) 40 Total
Arkansas 31 50%+ (17) Bernie 10[30.0] (Hillary 22) 32 Total
West Virginia 24 70%+ (18) Bernie 18[51.4%] (Hillary 11) 29 Total

These are states I address in different places. I include Oklahoma and Arkansas in my Iowa post. However I didn't have the delegate targets when I wrote it so I'll talk about them here. The other states I sort of group together as Appalachia. That's why you see West Virginia included. Maryland is a little less Southern than Virginia but its a state with a large urban metro area, Baltimore, and quite a lot of black voters relative to New England. So its similar demographically to the other states. As you can see unfortunately based on the 2016 vote many states where Bernie did better and where I have him improving decently took hits to their delegate counts because they went hard for Trump. Bit self-defeating to disenfranchise states that went red since blue states already support you but that's the Democrats for you.

I have Bernie picking up a lot of the vote in the Outer South states and although nearly every single one lost total delegates after 2016 he will get a decent delegate share as well. In fact as Bernie campaigns there I would advise him to mention how their states lost representation and why, because Hillary was a bad candidate for them. With Bernie at the helm in 2020 most of these states would see quite an increase in vote share based delegate count. An important factor is that establishment candidates are quite split while Bernie voters so far really only have him and Warren and I wouldn't expect Warren to get passed the early states in a primary campaign where Bernie is doing well. That means that a lot of their votes will be wasted in these states, as none of them use a caucus. I'd expect to see splits between Harris, Booker, Gillibrand, Castro and Beto that would put a few of them below the 15% line. In fact unfortunately in the very high share Bernie states I'm actually relying on this phenomenon to cushion Bernie and perhaps if he campaigns super well get him the last 76 delegates he needs to get to 50%+1.

Its relevant to note that he needs to spend his campaign time and money very well and get strong on the issues and avoid major gaffes in order to crack the first round win threshold. Its highly unlikely other candidates would side with him if he was at 40% of delegates or even 45%. The establishment absolutely does not want him to win.

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Election Day Megathread: Colorado, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah Primaries; Mississippi and South Carolina Runoff

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