KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Less than a week until the Missouri Democratic Primary, the candidates in the race are quickly targeting the Show Me State and its 84 delegates, and one group that will prove to be critical in securing the nomination.
“I think it comes down to relationships built that both candidates have had the opportunity to do over the years,” says political analyst Michele L. Whatley, who is also owner of The Griot Group.
Biden received a huge bounce from the black vote in several southern states on Super Tuesday, that propelled his campaign to the top of the delegate pack.
“I think the voters spoke loud and clear. The path to victory to beating Trump, is paved by the support of the black voters.
Whatley said Biden scored big because of his long history of work, but also for being number two, to the country’s first black president, Barack Obama.
“I think that his history and his work as Vice President has lent him access through the relationships that he’s built in that space. Black voters have long memories that they soon won’t forget.”
As for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Whatley said he’s had a tough time connecting with black voters.
“He has yet to develop the relationship within the black community and understanding the nuances and problems of black voters.”
She knows this for herself.
Whatley served as outreach coordinator for African American voters during the Sanders campaign in 2016.
In 2016 Sanders nearly won Missouri in a closer race against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
According to a poll from 538.com, Sanders trails Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday, and endorsed Biden.
She says Sanders didn’t appear to capitalize on the momentum he built in Missouri.
“I think there was an opportunity for Senator Sanders to continue to establish the relationships when he ran in 2016. I think there are lots of opportunities, not just for Senator Sanders. I think for all the candidates,” she said.
Whatley says so far none of the candidates have done a great job addressing concerns of black voters, which include racism, voter suppression, economic prosperity, and affordable housing.
“Black voters have choices they can either vote for who’s on the ticket, or they can sit at home, and sitting at home is a choice,” Whatley said.