The foolish quest to be the next Barack Obama

This white male pundit has no special insight into the mindset of today’s African-American voters. But early polling suggests they are not rushing unanimously toward any one bandwagon. This week’s POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows Biden leading among African-Americans with 26 percent, followed by Sanders with 14 percent. Harris comes in third with 7 percent (most of the poll was conducted just before she announced her candidacy) while Booker (2 percent) and Holder (1 percent) are near the bottom of the pack.

It is often noted that Obama trailed Clinton in early 2007 polling, and that was among black voters as well. But even back in January of that year, the same stage of the primary season as today, Obama was scoring double digits and held a solid second place, ahead of more established figures like Edwards, John Kerry and Al Gore. None of the current and probable candidates of color begin the race in the strong position Obama held.

Early polling is not always predictive because many voters aren’t yet paying close attention. But according to South Carolina’s leading African-American politician, Rep. Jim Clyburn, the black voters who are paying attention are still shopping, albeit from an initial short list. “From African-Americans, I’ve only heard three names being discussed: that’s Booker, Harris and Biden” he told the New York Times. He even went as far as to predict Biden, who has long vacationed in South Carolina and maintained political ties to local leaders, would win the state and “everybody else would be running for second place.”

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