Do you want to see an example of what, for lack of a better term, I will call journalistic diplomacy?
Read the beginning of Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan’s article for the Charlotte (NC) News-Observer, discussing Democrat presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg’s attempts to generate Black support:
Black voters are a major Democratic voting bloc, and a few months before the presidential primaries, candidates are courting the African-American community.
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg will visit North Carolina on Dec. 1 and attend the church led by the Rev. William Barber II, former state NAACP president and founder of Moral Mondays.
In South Carolina, one of the first states to vote and one where Buttigieg hasn’t been polling well among black voters, the candidate spoke in October at a Rock Hill church.
Black voters are a “major Democratic voting bloc”? That suggests Black voters are just one of the many higher-than-average voter segments.
But, actually, it is almost impossible for a Democrat presidential candidate to win without both massive Black support and high turnout. Illustratively, Donald Trump won an electoral landslide over Hillary Clinton in 2016 with only 8% Black support.
Buttigieg hasn’t been polling well among Black voters? That suggests he’s on the low side, nothing more.
But, actually, Buttigieg is barely polling at all among Black voters. And this is not just because Black voters just don’t know him that well, it is also because – by firing South Bend, Indiana’s Black Police Commissioner when Buttigieg became the city’s Mayor and, more recently, being seen as badly mishandling the racially charged shooting of a Black suspect, Eric Logan, by a White police officer, there is genuine animosity toward him among Black voters.
Buttigieg is not just “some guy we don’t know about”, he’s “some guy we DO know about and we don’t like”.
I appreciate the fact that not all journalism has to be hard-hitting and blunt. But – and I don’t mean this disrespectfully to Ms. Baumgartner Vaughan – her level of journalistic diplomacy goos over the issues – quite possibly insurmountable ones – that Peter Buttigieg faces among Black voters. And that shouldn’t happen.
Buttigieg may be doing quite well among primary voters in Iowa (about 3% Black) and New Hampshire (about 1% Black). But this showing, in two demographically atypical states, truly is a political “fool’s gold” situation.
In North Carolina, with about 21% of its population Black, and almost all of them Democrats? A very, very different story.
Mr. Buttigieg seems like a nice guy. And, especially for a 37 year old, he has an extremely impressive résumé. But if he is counting on Black voters to put his presidential run in gear, he better think harder. It is not happening.
And glossing over the reasons it is not happening isn’t doing anyone any good.