Let me start with the odd statement that I disagree with the premise of this post. over on James Nicoll’s blog, a fellow named David Wilford took issue with Bernie Sanders’ ability to get black voters to come to the polls. I think that’s wrong: Scott Walker angers blacks like you would not believe and there would be a long time for the Sanders campaign to learn and mobilize.
But what if he’s right?
Let’s start with black turnout in the past few election cycles:
Voting turnout has been on an upward secular trend even in off-elections. So it is certainly plausible that something other than having Barack Obama on the ballot is going on.
Let’s dig a little further. In 2004, 60.0% of black citizens voted. In 2008, that ratio rose to 64.7%. In 2012, it rose again to 66.2%.
So let’s imagine that voting rates fall all the way back to 2004 levels. That would take the black share of the vote to 11.8% instead of the projected 13%. How much of a vote swing would the GOP candidate to generate in order to win?
|EVs||Sanders EVs||White vote swing needed for GOP victory|
Now, these numbers assume that the Republican candidate cannot build on Mitt Romney’s numbers among Latino and Asian-American voters. For Scott Walker, that’s a given. For Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, not so much.
A Sanders victory against Walker, however, does not rely on energized black voters. It becomes harder without them, obviously, but not impossible. He needs to hold the Republican to a 3-point swing among white voters; call it a half-Reagan. Right now, Sanders leads polls against Walker, so I cannot see why this would be impossible even in an atmosphere of depressed black turnout.
But let me repeat: Scott Walker is such an energizing figure among black Americans that I would bet on any Democrat replicating Barack Obama’s numbers if Walker is the candidate. And thus, I continue to maintain that Sanders would lose against Bush or Rubio, albeit less than a landslide, and win against Scott Walker.