Hillary Clinton Triumphs With Black Voters in the South After Weeks of Call-Outs

Hillary Clinton Triumphs With Black Voters in the South After Weeks of Call-Outs
Source: AP
Source: AP

Days after handily defeating Bernie Sanders in South Carolina, Hillary Clinton once again triumphed with black voters. In the 11 states and one American territory where Democratic voters cast ballots in Super Tuesday's primary, Clinton won overwhelming support from black voters.

It's one of her campaign's defining moments, and a major boost at a crucial moment, according to experts. Clinton has been taken to task publicly and relentlessly in recent weeks for a now-infamous comment she made while she was first lady in 1996 about gang-involved youth of color who'd allegedly become "super predators." 

Read more: Hillary Clinton's Super Tuesday Wins Are the Perfect Start to Women's History Month

A young activist confronted Clinton at a black-tie fundraiser. The hashtag #WhichHillary began trending on Twitter calling Clinton to task for allegedly flip-flopping on a host of issues. Finally, Clinton issued an apology: "Looking back, I shouldn't have used those words, and I wouldn't use them today," she said.

More broadly, noted criminal justice scholar Michelle Alexander criticized Clinton's vocal support for policies that gutted the safety net for working families. "From the crime bill to welfare reform, policies Bill Clinton enacted — and Hillary Clinton supported — decimated black America," Alexander wrote in the Nation

But on Super Tuesday, none of that mattered. In Virginia, 84% of black voters supported Clinton, and among Democrats, Clinton swept Southern states. Overall, 8 in 10 black voters preferred Clinton to Sanders, according to the Washington Post

The reasons for Clinton's sweeping victory are as diverse as black voters are themselves. But one may be more surprising than most because it has to do with Donald Trump, who won decisively among Republicans on Tuesday.

"African American voters are very practical voters," Pearl Karen Dowe, a political scientist at the University of Arkansas, told Mic. "I think people are also making a decision based on who they possibly think is going to be the Republican nominee [and] I think that is helping Clinton because if there's a likelihood that the Republican nominee is going to be Donald Trump, then that is a very frightening idea to many people. In their minds, Hillary Clinton would be the most formidable opponent. I think that is playing a part."

Clinton took a veiled shot at Trump in her victory speech on Tuesday, essentially conceding to those voters' concerns. "Trying to divide America between us and them is wrong, and we're not going to let it work. Whether we like it or not, we're all in this together my friends," she said. "We all have to do our part. Unfortunately, too many of those with the most wealth and the most power in this country today seem to have forgotten that basic truth about America."

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Jamilah King

Jamilah King is a senior staff writer at Mic. She was previously an editor at Colorlines.

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