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Poll: Buttigieg Remains at Zero Percent among Black Voters in South Carolina

Tobias Hoonhout

A new Quinnipiac University poll of South Carolina voters found South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg still at zero percent among black voters, despite the campaign’s release of its comprehensive “Douglass Plan,” which details policies designed to address racial inequality.

The poll showed former vice president Joe Biden in the lead with 44 percent of the African American vote — which accounts for two thirds of the primary vote — and 33 percent overall, followed by progressive senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Buttigieg rounded out the top four with six percent overall, and tied for third with 11 percent of white primary voters, but zero percent among black voters.

“Unlike tight races in Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina has a clear frontrunner in the Democratic primary. Former Vice President Joe Biden has broad based appeal, with particularly strong leads among black and moderate/conservative voters,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Mary Snow said in the release.

Despite taking the lead in several Iowa polls, the Buttigieg campaign has come under fire in recent days for its marketing of the Douglass plan, which Buttigieg has called “the most comprehensive vision put forward by a 2020 candidate on the question of how we’re going to tackle systemic racism in this country.” Several black leaders in South Carolina said that their consulting on the plan was spun as an endorsement of the candidate, while the campaign itself has come under criticism for using a stock photo from Kenya in promoting the plan.

In a statement to National Review last week, the Buttigieg campaign defended its activity.

“Our campaign is working to build a multi-racial coalition, and we sought and received input from numerous Black policy experts and advisers to create a comprehensive plan to dismantle systemic racism: the Douglass Plan. We asked a number of Black South Carolinians, as well as South Carolinians from many backgrounds, to support the Douglass Plan, and we are proud and grateful that hundreds agreed to do so,” the statement read.

Reports have cited Buttigieg’s sexuality as a concern for black voters, and a Gallup source told National Review earlier this month that “22 percent of non-white Democrats said they would not vote for a gay or lesbian candidate,” compared to just nine percent of white Democrats.

After Representative James Clyburn (D., S.C.) said in early November that older African American voters saw Buttigieg’s sexuality as an issue, the mayor responded that he had faced and overcame similar sentiments in South Bend.

“It is remarkable how Americans are capable of moving past old habits, moving past old prejudices, making history, and getting the president who will serve them best, regardless of some of the other noise that’s circling,” Buttigieg said.

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