Biden, Buttigieg try to reach black voters with mixed results as 2020 race shifts

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CHICAGO – Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg have spent considerable energy trying to get back on track after stumbling on issues related to race.

Despite criticism from Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker, the two African Americans in the Democratic race, Biden maintains the lead in support among black voters and is helped by his near-decade at the side of the nation’s first black president.

Buttigieg has been criticized for his response after a police shooting that killed a black man in his community and even before that had little support from black voters. Buttigieg, who is gay, could face a challenge with older, more churchgoing black voters. 

Biden spoke of his work with segregationist senators and got lambasted at last week’s debate by Harris for opposing federally mandated busing to integrate schools.

The former vice president pushed back that critics unfairly discount the entirety of his career on the issue of racial justice. Although Biden is the front-runner in most polls, he has seen his lead shrink.

Biden’s strongest support remains in the African American community where he is the choice of 36% of black voters for the Democratic nomination – the best of the nearly two dozen candidates vying to take on President Donald Trump, according to a CNN poll published Monday.

Joe Biden, right, and Pete Buttigieg debated in Miami on June 27.

Joe Biden, right, and Pete Buttigieg debated in Miami on June 27. (Photo: Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images)

At last week’s debate, Buttigieg acknowledged that he’s fallen short in diversifying his city’s police department. The mayor  of South Bend, Indiana, and his small Midwest city are at the center of the latest flare-up in the debate on policing in America.

After the police shooting of Eric Logan last month, Buttigieg vowed to take action to improve the relationship in his city between police and the black community. He registered 0% support with black voters in the CNN poll after last week’s debate.

“I am asked how I’m going to earn the black vote in the polls 10 times more often than how my policies would benefit black Americans,” Buttigieg lamented in a speech Tuesday at the annual convention for Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition in Chicago. “It’s as if I’m being asked more about how to win than how to deserve to win.”

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks with Jesse Jackson.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks with Jesse Jackson. (Photo: Amr Alfiky, AP)

Shooting fallout: ‘Because I couldn’t get it done’: Pete Buttigieg responds to diminishing diversity in South Bend police force

Suffolk University/USA TODAY Poll: Kamala Harris surges in Iowa as Bernie Sanders suffers after debate

Biden, Buttigieg lose ground after debate

In the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, Biden’s support remained steady at 24% in a post-debate poll conducted by Suffolk University and USA TODAY. That is the same level of support he had in a Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN Iowa Poll taken last month.ADVERTISEMENT

But in this week’s CNN national survey, Biden led the crowded Democratic field with 22% support – a 10-percentage-point drop in that poll since May. The former vice president saw his support dip 8 percentage points in a poll published Tuesday by Quinnipiac University. Biden holds a 22%-20% lead over Harris, a precipitous drop from the 11-point lead he held over Sen. Bernie Sanders, his closest rival three weeks ago. By Charles Schwab How Much Do ETFs Really Cost? See more →

In Iowa, a predominantly white electorate, Buttigieg came in fifth at 6% in the Suffolk/USA TODAY survey, compared with 14% in last month’s Des Moines Register poll. In this week’s CNN poll, he stood at 4% nationally among registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, down 1 percentage point from the cable network’s poll in late May. Buttigieg saw an even bigger decline in support in the Quinnipiac poll, where his support dropped to 4% compared with 8% in the university’s last national polling June 11.

After the rocky debate performance, Biden defended his record and reminded voters of his ties to former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president.

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