This outcome is in keeping with the dominant tradition of pragmatism in African-American voting. Black voters have rarely had the luxury of voting for national leaders who can offer them everything they want. Marginalized communities have to leverage their vote. “Black voters are especially inclined to choose established candidates and efficiently assess contenders based on their perceived ability to preserve hard-won civil rights and racial equality gains,” pointed out Theodore Johnson last year.
It may also be true that the role of black voters in the Democratic Party goes beyond their size as a voting block. The recent growth of white racial liberalism may give the black electorate outsize legitimacy in the eyes of white voters. Candidates like Warren, Klobuchar, and (especially) Buttigieg have faced questions from white voters about their inability to attract black support — almost certainly a novel phenomenon. The loud, clear voice of black voters is likely to persuade some white voters that Biden is the choice for Democrats who don’t want to gamble the election on persuading America to stop hating socialism.
Meanwhile, the candidate whose rationale has been almost totally destroyed is Bloomberg. The former New York mayor initially stayed out of the race because of Biden’s early strength. He jumped in late because Biden’s support was disintegrating. In a world in which Biden disappeared, Bloomberg might have a path. But Biden’s comeback eliminates the contingency upon which a Bloomberg nomination was all but explicitly premised.