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Bernie Sanders Flip-Flops on Importance of the White Vote

Independent Vermont Senator and upstart Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders may soon earn the nickname “Mr. Plow,” since the whiter it gets, the more he cleans up. Over the weekend, Sanders put up huge margins of victory in Washington and Alaska and narrowed his gap with Hillary Clinton in pledged delegates to under 300. His success in white-dominated caucus states led CNN’s Jake Tapper to ask Sanders an uncomfortable question on Sunday’s State of the Union. “Back in 2008, Hillary Clinton touted her support with white voters,” Tapper reminded viewers, an uncomfortable observation for Hillary Clinton. He continued, “This year, you seem to be doing well with that group. Do you agree with Clinton’s 2008 assessment that the white working-class is pivotal to Democratic chances in November?”

Sanders, who has had similar difficulty gaining support from non-white voters that Hillary Clinton had in 2008, distanced himself from that point of view:

I think every vote is pivotal. We are now winning in state after state the Latino vote. We’re doing better now that we’re out of the South with the African-American vote. We’re doing extraordinarily well with young people. And we are — we think we do have a path toward victory.

It was the smart answer, and miles ahead of the 2008 quote that Tapper was referencing, in which Hillary made a general election argument that was about as graceful as Tom Arnold figure-skating the Lambada, and dug herself a deep hole with Obama coalition voters, and particularly black voters:

Yeah, that one stung, but it was also a helpful decoder ring for how politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, think of groups like the “working class.”

A better question, though, might have been whether Bernie agreed with another, more recent assessment of the importance of white voters in a general election, from November of 2014:

It’s smart politics for Bernie to abandon his evangelizing for white voters now, but the real test will come if and when he narrows Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates, and has to make a convincing argument for Superdelegates to flip their support to him. That siren call will be tougher to resist when making a case against a Republican nominee like Donald Trump.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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