MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson said this week that presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (D) has a huge problem because even President Donald Trump is more popular than Buttigieg with the party’s most important voters—black Democrats.
Johnson, The Root’s politics editor and one of the most prominent pundits on racial politics and issues, made his remarks after two national polls (CNN, Quinnipiac) this week found that the South Bend, Indiana, Mayor has 0% support from black Democrats.
“At this point, Donald Trump is more popular with black voters than Mayor Pete,” Johnson said. “That is a problem if you are a Democrat running for office.”
At Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH conference on Tuesday, Buttigieg whined that the media keep pestering about his abysmal poll numbers with black Democrats, who will likely make up 60% of the electorate in South Carolina’s critical first-in-the-South primary that will make or break many candidacies.
“I am asked how I’m going to earn the black vote in the polls ten times more often than how my policies would benefit black Americans,” Buttigieg reportedly said. “It’s as if I’m being asked more about how to win than how to deserve to win.”
Then in what may have been another tone-deaf moment for an egghead candidate who has been criticized as being the epitome of a “briefing-book Democrat” who is unable to empathize with various constituencies, Buttigieg said that black Democrats “need to understand the details” of his Douglass Plan for black America.
After a white South Bend police officer, who did not have his body camera turned on, killed a black resident, Buttigieg, who had already lost the trust of many black residents when he demoted the city’s first black police chief because he secretly recored white officers allegedly making racist comments, was slammed for bungling the situation even though he left the campaign trail for a few days to address the police shooting. The Washington Post noted that “instead of showcasing Buttigieg’s ability to lead through a crisis,” the South Bend shooting “is exposing what has long been considered an Achilles’ heel of his candidacy: his frosty relationship with South Bend’s black residents.”
Buttigieg reportedly “alienated the family of the dead man, Eric Logan” when he spoke to the media before the family, “skipped a vigil at the scene of the shooting, and sought advice from outsiders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York.” Buttigieg has been panned for not being able to name black activists in South Bend who support him, and the Post noted that to many of Buttigieg’s detractors, his actions after the shooting again showed that “he still doesn’t get it.”
Oliver Davis, “the longest-serving black member of the South Bend Common Council,” told the Post: “How’s he handling it?. Well, he talked to the media before the family. He skipped the family vigil, full of black residents. And then he then gave a speech to the police. So, how do you think that went over?”
While addressing protesters, Buttigieg seemed out of his depth and had another awkward interaction with activists while speaking with a bullhorn even though activists were just a few feet away from him.
“You’re running for president? And you want black people to vote for you? That’s not gonna happen,” a female black resident shouted at Buttigieg, who responded, “I’m not asking for your vote.”
“You’re not gonna get it, either,” the activist then replied.
When asked during last week’s debate why South Bend’s police department did not have more people of color, Buttigieg replied: “Because I couldn’t get it done.”
Buttigieg hauled in $24 million last quarter, but the South Bend mayor cannot win his party’s nomination if he continues to poll at 0% with black Democrats.