Is Pete Buttigieg’s Sexual Orientation Hurting His Campaign?

With Pete Buttigieg rising in the polls, but underperforming among African-Americans, some are wondering if his sexual orientation is holding him back.

While South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg continues to poll well nationally and in states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, he is polling extraordinarily badly in South Carolina, which is the first Democratic primary where there is a substantial African-American population that will be participating. While the polling to date has shown that African-American South Carolinians are strongly backing Joe Biden and throwing at least some support to Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker, Buttigieg stands out like a sore thumb in that his support among this key demographic is lagging significantly.

This is leading some, including some African-Americans and Democrats to wonder if his sexuality is a bigger issue among African-American voters than may have thought:

Addressing a conference of African-American church congregations in this vote-rich city, Pete Buttigieg quoted scripture on Sunday morning and extolled his “Douglass Plan” to combat racial inequities in America, one of several attempts this weekend to confront his strikingly low support among black voters.

But Mr. Buttigieg also undertook a delicate task before the African Methodist Episcopal worshipers. As a gay, married man addressing a denomination that does not allow same-sex marriage rites, he tried to seek common ground over being members of minority groups whose civil rights have come under attack. It was a nod to his sexuality, following the disclosure last week that the Buttigieg campaign held focus groups that found some black voters in South Carolina were uncomfortable with a gay man as president.

“All of us in different ways have been led to question whether we belong,” Mr. Buttigieg told the pews of black worshipers. “And I know what it is to look on the news and see your rights up for debate. All of us must extend a hand to one another. Because I also know what it is to find acceptance where you least expect it.”

As Mr. Buttigieg increasingly presents himself to Democrats as a younger, moderate alternative to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., he is struggling badly to compete against one of Mr. Biden’s strengths: deep connections to black voters. Nowhere is that problem greater than in South Carolina, which votes fourth in the Democratic nomination fight in February and is the first state where black voters are decisive — a critical test that could be a prologue for primaries in March where African-Americans will also be influential.

A Monmouth University poll of Democratic likely primary voters in South Carolina released last week found Mr. Buttigieg at 3 percent overall, with just 1 percent support from African Americans.

There are many reasons for Mr. Buttigieg’s low standing among black voters, the foremost being that he is little-known to many of them. He is the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., who still has a relatively low national profile — including on civil rights and issues of race — and focused much of this year building support among liberals, Democratic donors and voters in the predominantly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

But after attracting overwhelmingly white audiences to his campaign events in South Carolina, despite blacks making up a majority of Democrats in the state, the Buttigieg campaign held focus groups here, which suggested “being gay was a barrier” for him, according to an internal campaign memo that surfaced last week. (His campaign said they did not leak the memo.)

Many of the 24 uncommitted black voters in the groups, men and women of ages 25 to 65, were deeply uncomfortable discussing Mr. Buttigieg’s sexual orientation, the memo said, adding that “they felt the mayor was ‘flaunting’ his sexuality by the very mention of having a husband.”

In interviews this weekend, black Democratic Party officials in South Carolina largely said that Mr. Buttigieg’s sexuality was not a concern to them, while voters expressed more divergent views. Yet most party leaders and voters agreed that being a married gay man would cause some discomfort with religious or conservative black Democrats.
Mr. Buttigieg’s sexuality may be a factor with religious and white conservative voters as well, but black Democrats are a focal point because they were critical to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and others winning the party nomination in recent years.

“The biggest issue for him is he’s married to a man,” said Phyllis Harris-Drakeford, the Democratic chairwoman of Kershaw County, S.C. “I have no problem with that: You love who you want to love and you have the freedom in this country to do that. But in the South in particular, that’s not well favored.”

As part of Mr. Buttigieg’s effort to connect with African Americans this weekend, the mayor hosted a homecoming tailgate cookout on Saturday at Allen University, a historically black campus in Columbia, S.C.

Gabriel Greene, a long-distance truck driver whose son was a football prospect, said he had not heard of Mr. Buttigieg. As a reporter ticked off some details about him — 37 years old, a mayor, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, married to a man — Mr. Greene interrupted.
“You say he’s married to a man?” he said. “He lost my vote. I believe in Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

This mostly anecdotal account of the attitude of African-American voters in South Carolina was released at roughly the same time as a McClatchy report that seems to corroborate the findings of the New York Times report linked and a Politico report about a poll that found that a significant number of Americans doubted that the country was ready for an openly gay, married President:

As the Democratic Party fields its first serious presidential contender who is openly gay, half of American voters say that they personally are ready for a gay or lesbian president, but are split about whether the country as a whole is ready.

According to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll of registered voters, 50 percent of respondents said they were either definitely or probably ready to have a commander in chief who is openly gay, compared with 37 percent who said they were either definitely or probably not ready.

But voters were more pessimistic when asked whether they thought the country was ready for an openly gay president — 40 percent said they thought the country was ready, with 45 percent saying the country was not ready.

That gap grew even wider when voters were asked whether they thought their neighbors were ready for a gay president. About a quarter of respondents answered affirmatively, while 46 percent said their neighbors were either definitely or probably not ready for a gay president. Pluralities of both Democrats and Republicans, as well as independents, all said they did not believe that their neighbors were ready for a gay president.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult survey results are far from hypothetical. The poll reveals a mixed bag of potential implications for the candidacy of Pete Buttigieg, the only openly gay candidate in the race. The mayor of South Bend, Ind., began his run as a longshot but has since shown flashes of being a real contender in the race.

But Buttigieg’s sexuality “may be an issue for some voters as he remains in contention for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult”s vice president. “Notably, 58 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 22 percent of Democrats say they aren’t ready for a gay or lesbian president. The comparative figures not ready for a female president are 36 percent of Republicans, 15 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats.”

The question of what impact Mayor Buttigieg’s sexual orientation and the extent to which it and his marriage to his husband Chasten are having an impact on his campaign is one the media has danced around for the better part of the year. To some extent, one gets the impression that there is a reluctance among reporters to asking the question and among Democratic pundits and party officials to address it. Despite that reluctance, though, it seems clear that there is some truth to the idea that the two are related, and that at some point Buttigieg and his fellow Democrats may be required to address the issue head-on, especially as the South Bend Mayor appears to be rising in the polls everywhere except South Carolina.

\In national polls, for example, Buttigieg stands at 7.0% putting him in 4th place behind Biden, Warren, and Sanders. In Iowa, where he has seen some of his best numbers, Buttigieg has moved into second place at 17.0% behind Elizabeth Warren and ahead of Joe Biden. In New Hampshire, he’s in 4th place behind the top three of Biden, Sanders, and Warren. In South Carolina, though, which is the first primary in a state with a significant African-American population, Buttigieg stands at 4.0%, putting him in sixth place. To be fair, Mayor Pete is also underperforming in Nevada but that state has not been polled in more than a month so it’s unclear what’s going on there. It is South Carolina that stands out like a sore thumb, and the main reason for that appears to be the fact that he’s getting basically no support from African-American Democrats.

To be fair, there could be plenty of reasons why Buttigieg is struggling among this demographic. His relative lack of experience notwithstanding his enthusiasm and popularity, for example, could be a problem for many of these voters who are looking for a candidate who can take President Trump on in the General Election. Another factor is simply the fact that he’s still relatively unknown, which certainly isn’t true for candidates such as Biden, Sanders, and Warren. Finally, as many have noted there have been several issues during Buttigieg’s tenure as Mayor of South Bend regarding tensions between the city’s African-American population and its police force. That tension was heightened earlier this year during an incident that occurred in June that resulted in the death of an African-American man at the hands of a City Police Officer. That incident led to Buttigieg taking a week off the campaign trail to deal with the repercussions.

All that being said, though, there has been plenty of evidence that one of the primary reasons that Buttigieg is not connecting with this crucial part of the Democratic coalition is because he is a gay man married to another gay man. For the most part, this has been explained by the fact that African-Americans, especially older African-Americans, are more religious and culturally conservative than other Democrats. Whether Buttigieg can get beyond this concern and earn their support remains to be seen.

The broader question, of course, is what all of this means, which Frank Bruni seeks to answer in The New York Times:

[Buttigieg would be] the first to acknowledge that. In fact he did acknowledge it when we spoke last June about the state of L.G.B.T.Q. rights in America. Referring to his sexual orientation and his marriage to another man, he told me, “It’s safe to say that it led to there being more interest and attention early on.” He stood out among the dozens of Democratic aspirants, each desperate to do precisely that.

But there’s a big difference between winning over enough Americans to land in his current position — he placed second, behind Elizabeth Warren, in one survey of Iowa voters last week — and having an appeal broad enough to nab the party’s nomination, let alone the White House. Is being gay an insurmountable obstacle on the path to those prizes?

Anyone who answers with an unequivocal yes or no is just guessing.

The question is now being asked more urgently than before, as the primary contests draw closer and many Democrats simultaneously assess the risks of the two front-runners, Warren and Joe Biden, and survey the field anew, wondering if anyone in the tier of candidates just below them might be a better opponent for Donald Trump. Their gazes invariably fall on Buttigieg, but their apprehensions include whether America could really elect a gay president.

“Nobody believes that America can do what America will do until America does it,” said David Axelrod, who was Barack Obama’s chief strategist. He was referring specifically to serious worries at this point in the 2008 presidential race that America could really elect a black president.

But he said that the analogy is far from perfect. For example, Obama’s candidacy always held the promise of extraordinary support from a crucial Democratic constituency that has thus far been cool to Buttigieg — and could well remain so.

“Among a significant segment of African-American voters who are socially conservative, he’s not polling well,” Axelrod said, noting a frustration of Buttigieg’s campaign that my colleague Trip Gabriel explored in a recent article in The Times.

If Buttigieg cleared that hurdle and reached the general election, “Could he suppress turnout among African-Americans and among some Hispanic voters who might otherwise be predisposed to the Democratic nominee?” Axelrod asked. “I don’t know the answer.”

At the same time, Bruni argues that Buttigieg’s sexual orientation could also be a benefit his campaign:

For all its potential drawbacks, Buttigieg’s sexual orientation can be woven into his personal narrative to powerful effect, humanizing him, making him more approachable rather than less, forging a bridge to other minorities, establishing a familiarity with struggle and thus a capacity for empathy. All of that hinges on how deftly he integrates it into his remarks.

And on that front, he has been deft enough that, in my view, being gay doesn’t automatically doom him. His age and degree of experience — he’s the mayor of a city, South Bend, Ind., of just 100,000 people — are arguably greater vulnerabilities, and his fate won’t be anything close to a referendum on gay equality.

His sexual orientation is indisputably a challenge, but one that’s surmountable if opponents stumble, if voters’ mood is just so, if his personality sparkles, if his message sparks. We’re a country of deeply ingrained prejudices. But we can also be open-minded and openhearted, and our need for a savior outweighs any interest in what he or she does in bed.

I tend to agree with Bruni. If Buttigieg can show himself to be the kind of transformational candidate that Barack Obama did in 2008, then his sexuality will be as irrelevant to persuadable voters as Obama’s skin color was. Indeed, as Bruni notes the people most inclined to hold Buttigieg’s sexuality against him are people who unlikely vote for any Democratic candidate for President. Additionally, it strikes me that the top priority for African-Americans in November 2020 is going to be to get rid of Donald Trump. If Buttigieg manages to win the nomination, or become the running mate for the person who does, I think the vast majority of those voters will be just as enthusiastic about voting for him as they would any other Democrat taking on the President. Very few of them are likely to make the mistake some African-Americans did in 2016 when they stayed home because Obama wasn’t on the ticket. It will take Buttigieg some work to win them over, but he seems very well suited for that task.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Congress, Pete Buttigieg, Politicians, Race and Politics, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. CSK says:

    Buttigieg’s age might factor against him. Perhaps not. It doesn’t bother me in the least, but at 37, he’s a child in comparison to Sanders, Warren, and Biden. Even Harris is 55, though she sure doesn’t look it.

  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    If his spouse was named Chastena and a cis gendered female he would likely be a more attractive candidate for socially conservative AA and Hispanic Dems. On the other hand, he’d simply be another young white male of moderate political accomplishments and ignored. The fact that he is openly gay and married got many to take a look at him and he impressed.

    I don’t believe that the typical political pundit, inside or outside the beltway has very good insight into the AA and Hispanic communities and how they will vote if the choice is Tiny vs. a gay male. If we want an indication of who those voters will support we need to speak with the leaders in those communities. I’d rather hear the opinions of a couple of dozen ministers of Black and Hispanic churches, city counselors and state reps from those communities. The average white guy/gal pundit, ain’t gotta clue.

  3. Gustopher says:

    Being openly gay is also kind of his hook that gets him initial attention, so it’s a double edged sword at worst.

    Bigotry is real, and I don’t want to say a bunch of older, church going black folks would have no problems with an openly gay, married candidate, but, it’s not like any other black folks seem to support him either. He has his work cut out for him, and he stumbled badly with the police shooting — he didn’t even respond in a good McKinsey Consulting way (shooting happened, officer didn’t have his camera on, we need to measure how often stops are recorded, and make the camera a regular habit…)

    He’s tone deaf on race, and kind of going through the motions, while promoting a vision of a meritocracy that a lot of black folks just don’t believe in because they often start at a disadvantage, and run into the roadblocks of a racist gatekeeper (if 15% of white folks are racist, and you need to get several people to agree to hire or promote someone, that 15% has a much bigger effect than their numbers). I don’t think that’s good enough.

    You don’t need to be African-American to represent African-Americans or get their support, but you do need to understand their problems. Biden has goodwill from Obama. Warren can talk about redlining and the effects this had and still has on African-American communities today. Harris has direct experience. Bernie marched in the 60’s. And Buttigieg has got some learnin’ to do.

    If he gets some support with the younger black folks, he can get their “uncomfortable” parents to take a second look.

  4. EddieInCA says:

    In THIS upcoming election, the Dems have a real shot at GA, AZ, IA, TX, in addition to the must haves of WI, MI, and PA. I think Ohio is probably gone.

    With Buttegeig or Warren, the Dems have zero shot at GA, AZ, IA, or TX, and WI and MI are back in play.

    I love Buttegeig, but he’s not bringing in African American woman to oust Trump like someone else might.

    Of course, that’s just the perspective from within my own bubble. I could be wrong, and I often am.

  5. mattbernius says:

    In terms of the Gay issue, it does seem like there is a generational divide among Democratic leaving AA and Lantix folks (with older members having more of an issue with that).

    However I have to wonder the degree to which Buttigieg’s issue stem from his handling of multiple community incidents as Mayor of South Bend (as Doug notes above… I think people tend to under account for those types of issues).

    I also think the effect of Biden’s connection to Obama cannot be understated.

    As far as my view on Buttigieg, while he clearly would be an improvement over Trump, I personally think he should win a Statewide office first (Governor or Senator). I think he represents a better future for the Dems than Beto. But I think he’s making this particular run too soon.

  6. Mike says:

    At what point does the me too /gotcha movement going to address the widespread misogyny and homophobia still prevalent in hip hop culture/music? When is it pc to no longer tolerate wo being considered culturally insensitive/racist?

  7. Mike says:

    At what point does the me too /gotcha movement going to address the widespread misogyny and homophobia still prevalent in hip hop culture/music? When is it pc to no longer tolerate wo being considered culturally insensitive/racist

  8. de stijl says:


    Which version are you going with?

    The one that blames misogyny and homophobia on the minority culture as the primary carriers and influencers?

    I’d go with that one. It will totally win us over.

  9. al Ameda says:

    First off, I will say right up front that, at this point, well before any primary or caucus vote, I support Pete Buttigieg ahead of Warren, Sanders, and Biden.

    Now, my own reality check intuition tells me that as far as we’ve come on sexual orientation, on gay marriage, on mainstreaming gay life into our culture, that it is likely still a negative in national electoral politics.

    It seems to me that the negatives might actually be higher than polling indicates, because I’m not sure that all those people who tell pollsters that they have no problem with Buttigieg’s sexual orientation, are telling the pollster how they actually feel about this. After all who wants to tell a pollster (even anonymously) that they’re biased against gays? There has to be a greater margin of error here.

  10. Michael Cain says:


    I personally think he should win a Statewide office first (Governor or Senator).

    Buttigieg’s problem — and O’Rourke and Abrams have the same one to varying degrees — is that he probably can’t win a statewide office in Indiana as it stands today. He probably can’t even win his Congressional district, as it was still R+10 in 2018.

  11. Scott says:

    I remember back in the 90s when Aladdin came out and there was chatter about whether Americans would accept a Arab woman as a heroine. Same chatter about the Lion King. Of course they were big hits. As was Obama.

    Maybe being gay is a step too far but I also remember the drama of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. When that was dropped: nothing. Life went on as normal.

    As a souless technocrat, I am a Pete fan and have been from the beginning. As a baby boomer and new senior citizen, I do not want to vote for Biden, Sanders, Warren, Trump or Clinton. We went to a new generation with Obama and we should continue that path.

    As for Buttigieg, there is nothing he can do about his sexuality. He doesn’t have to address it; he just needs to tell us his agenda and sell us on it.

  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    All things being equal? I like Mayor Pete. He’s smart, coherent, in touch with reality and he served. It comes down for me to who I think can win. Warren, the also smart, also coherent, maybe less in touch woman? Or Pete? Which is more likely to upset this or that constituency, the white woman or the gay guy? I feel like I need to digest some Iowa and NH exit polling.

    I think if the Obama family gets hard into this the AA community can be convinced, either way. I think maybe that’s enough to raise the enthusiasm level and lower the hesitation. If that’s the case we’re down to a more universal misogyny vs. homophobia. Both run deep, but I have the data-less sense that misogyny is the bigger problem. I wish I believed women would turn out for a woman, but I am not convinced.

    But damned if I know. Insufficient data.

  13. Kylopod says:


    It doesn’t bother me in the least, but at 37, he’s a child in comparison to Sanders, Warren, and Biden

    In 1940, when then-38-year-old Thomas Dewey stepped into the GOP race, one of FDR’s people commented that he had “thrown his diaper in the ring.”

  14. Kylopod says:


    As far as my view on Buttigieg, while he clearly would be an improvement over Trump, I personally think he should win a Statewide office first (Governor or Senator).

    In Indiana?!

  15. Michael Reynolds says:


    I remember back in the 90s when Aladdin came out

    By the time I got to the next clause: Aladdin. Does he mean Sinbad? Sinbad came out as gay? Huh. Then of course the rest of the sentence made no damn sense because it had nothing to do with Sinbad. Wait, Lion King? Does he mean Pumbaa? Was Pumbaa gay? So what about Timon?

    In future please take more care to avoid accidentally causing me to assume that rather than an animated movie, you meant a comic with baggy MC Hammer pants. Who will, in my mind, now forever be gay.

  16. CSK says:

    @Kylopod: Some things never change, do they?

  17. mattbernius says:

    I get the point that @Michael Cain and @Kylopod raise about the Statewide office thing. That said, it also doesn’t full me with hope about his electoral college possibilities.

  18. Kylopod says:


    I get the point that @Michael Cain and @Kylopod raise about the Statewide office thing. That said, it also doesn’t full me with hope about his electoral college possibilities.

    I’m not sure I’m following your reasoning. Dems don’t need Indiana to win the EC, any more than Trump needed New York or Romney needed Massachusetts. In fact, being from a state dominated by the other party is generally considered to be an advantage for a presidential candidate even if he isn’t likely to win that particular state. Pete as nominee likely won’t win Indiana, but it could well help him elsewhere in the Midwest.

    What it does say is something about why Pete chose to run for president as opposed to Senator, Governor, or even Congressman. It may be a long shot, but the other possibilities are even longer shots. And it opens him up to being considered for vp or some other role in the next Democratic administration, as well as potentially being a presidential nominee later (I mentioned Dewey, who ended up being the nominee in 1944 and 1948). All in all, it’s probably a better move in terms of his future than a quixotic Senate/Governor bid in Mike Pence’s state.

  19. Robert Sharperson says:

    @Mike: The homophobia that is prevalent in a segment of the AA community is not a result of Hip Hop culture/music. It is based on the religious beliefs that are play a major role in the lives of AA along with a lack of significant exposure to the LBQTs community. AAs especially older ones do not take their cues on behavior from Hip Hop music and the culture. Furthermore, Hip Hop music embraced by today’s millennials is much less misogynistic and homophobic. Finally, as an AA gay man, I believe that we do need to address the underlying tension that exists between the two communities openly and honestly but blaming Hip Hop is going to have many people scratching their heads.

  20. Carol says:

    @mattbernius: Better than running for a statewide office in Indiana, which I believe he would lose, might be for him to get experience in a D administration. I would hope that in another 10 years voters will be out of the grip of the republicans homophobia and evangelical hypocrisy and can consider Buttigieg on his merits of which there are many. Whatever he does, he will be a good age in 10 years and more experienced. And everybody will know more or less how to pronounce his name.

  21. Carol says:

    @Robert Sharperson: Have you managed to bridge the divide, Robert.

  22. Robert Sharperson says:

    @Carol: It has been a struggle but unconditional love and support from mom has been wonderful.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Interesting. When I read the same sentence, I immediately thought of the movie and “came out” as the movie being released. Some times being ignint (in this case, of alternate meanings of “come out”) works out okay, I guess. (Also, my gaydar is completely broken–maybe always has been, so I simply try to avoid needing to identify sexual identity.)

  24. Gustopher says:


    At what point does the me too /gotcha movement going to address the widespread misogyny and homophobia still prevalent in hip hop culture/music? When is it pc to no longer tolerate wo being considered culturally insensitive/racist?

    Probably not long before “Good morning little schoolgirl” is reviled for being about a child sexual predator, but long after “Oh, Susannah” has its most offensive lyrics rewritten (which has already happened).

    And modern music is less misogynistic and homophobic.

  25. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I read the original sentence and thought someone was getting plot points from the original Disney Alladin and the recent remake mixed up.

    I don’t know that the new one has a gay Alladin, but I don’t know that it doesn’t.

  26. Jen says:


    He’s tone deaf on race

    No, he is not. He knows full well that he’s trailing in this area, and has released detailed plans on addressing institutional racism and criminal justice reform. That he’s not making headway with the AA community is in part because they still have other options, and potentially partially the social conservatism hangup of his being gay.

    He gets asked this question at almost every town hall event here in NH. He knows full well he needs to address it–but he’s by no means “tone deaf” on the subject.

  27. Jen says:


    With Buttegeig or Warren, the Dems have zero shot at GA, AZ, IA, or TX, and WI and MI are back in play.

    Arizona elected an openly bi woman as their US Senator in 2018. Buttigieg is a fairly moderate Dem, I wouldn’t completely discount his chances in AZ. Warren is more liberal, so yes, I do think that if she’s the nominee Arizona would likely go to Trump.

    I tend to think that Buttigieg’s chances would rest heavily on the percentage of the youth vote. I’m interested in going back to 2018 data and seeing where the youth turnout was the highest. If young people turn out to vote, he–and Warren, frankly–have a better shot.

    This isn’t unusual. The campaigns of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had high percentages of youth turnout. For all of the “Democratic victories reside in X voter bloc turnout” predictions, Democratic presidential victories seem to depend on high turnout of young voters. Young, exciting candidates are a predictor of that.

  28. Gustopher says:


    He gets asked this question at almost every town hall event here in NH. He knows full well he needs to address it–but he’s by no means “tone deaf” on the subject.

    Tone deaf, not blind.

    Part of his charm is that he is a bit overly analytical, and a well meaning cold fish. He connects with people who are like that. I like him because of that. But it’s a personality type that has trouble connecting with people from different backgrounds.

    Also, he opted out of actually facing discrimination by staying in the closet until 2017 or so, when the world had changed and it was no longer a huge deal. He lived a charmed and sheltered life (partly by sheltering himself). I’m not sure that resonates with people who cannot opt-out of discrimination.

    And he surrounds himself with people like himself. He served in the military, which has lots and lots of non-white folks. Why are none of those brown folks he served with serving as his surrogates with racial minority communities?

    And black folks aren’t a monolith. There are lots of socially liberal, queer friendly, African Americans. He’s not making inroads there either. It’s not the fact that he’s gay. It’s more than that.

  29. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I wish the concept of Black “Community Leaders” would go the way of the DoDo Bird. It’s a relic of the 60s and no longer informative or relevant

  30. Jim Brown 32 says:


    Who are they going to address? The white kids who overwhelmingly buy the music?

  31. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Sometimes I think Democrats believe they can simply trot out a person from any identify group…and their success or failure is because of some perceived negative with that identity group.

    Pete simply doesn’t have “it” factor. To be a successful democratic nominee you have to connect with a wide swath of people…which means you have to understand subtle cultural cues, jargon, subject matter, etc.

    If Pete wants to understand how to excite people not like himself (which is pretty much all he appeals to) he needs to spend time in their spaces, laugh with them, learn what fires them up and makes them cry. Joe Biden is the only one that makes a passable attempt at this…which is why he has Black support.

    You cant show up with every audience with the smartest guy in the room egg head act. It doesn’t play well on every stage.

  32. Kylopod says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Joe Biden is the only one that makes a passable attempt at this…which is why he has Black support.

    Actually, the #1 reason for Joe’s black support is his being the vp to Obama. Period. In his previous two presidential runs, he was just as marginal a candidate as Pete is now—arguably more so. And though I don’t have the numbers in front of me, I doubt his AA support was any better than Pete’s currently.

  33. Gustopher says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Warren’s support among black voters has been steadily increasing. She’s currently polling at about 19%, up from 10% in August.

    Behold a link to politico

    She is putting in the work, talking to people, listening to people, and caring. It’s having an effect.

    Biden gets 40% of the black vote in that poll, Buttigieg 2, Harris 4. Polling numbers have margins of error, etc., this might be an outlier, etc.

  34. Gustopher says:

    @Jim Brown 32: There are definitely people who are respected and have an outsized reach in the various black communities. What would you call them if not community leaders?

  35. Jim Brown 32 says:

    That’s a pretty shallow take…but whatever. Obama’s living his like and not holding Bidens hand. Give the man some credit. He learn a few things in the 8 years he caddied for Obama

  36. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Gustopher: First. I would disagree that anyone or group has an outsized take on my community. It’s a pretty Balkanized community after you get past a few unifying issues. And if you start talking how to address those issues…it quickly gets Balkanized again.

    Who are a few people you consider to have this outsized influence?

  37. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Gustopher: Put in the work…get the support. We supported Jesse Jackson knowing he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell…..

    One thing that wont happen again is for white politicians to show up every 4 years and dance, pander, show up at a church service….and then we all run out and vote for you because of the D next to you name. Obama ended that tradition as HRC had the misfortune of proving out.

  38. mattbernius says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    First. I would disagree that anyone or group has an outsized take on my community. It’s a pretty Balkanized community after you get past a few unifying issues. And if you start talking how to address those issues…it quickly gets Balkanized again.

    BINGO. Note how no one ever says something like “White community leader So-And-So says….”

    Or if you’re going to buy into that, then you better be ready for and accepting of “White community leader Donald Trump says” because it’s clear that he’s speaking for a not-insignificant portion of our “community.”

    Its important to extend the courtesy of nuance that you award to your group to all other groups.

  39. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:


    Perhaps not. It doesn’t bother me in the least, but at 37, he’s a child in comparison to Sanders, Warren, and Biden.

    My Mom is a child in comparison to Sanders, Warren and Biden.