During the Democratic debate last week, Bernie Sanders said:
Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the Deep South, no question about it. That is the most conservative part of this great country. But you know what, we’re out of the Deep South now. And we’re moving up.
Let’s ignore for now the racist implications of this statement. After all there are only six states where more than one quarter of the population is black, and five of them are part of the “Deep South“.
But let’s stick to the numbers, and for numbers, we always turn to Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com.
Silver points out that Sanders’s statement is very misleading, if not outright wrong. Clinton is not just doing well with blacks in the deep south, she is doing well with all minorities (including hispanics and asian-americans) everywhere. And minorities are increasingly important to the Democratic party. In the last presidential election, only 55% of voters for Barack Obama were white, and that percentage is expected to go down over time. Silver predicts that for this election, whites will make up 54% of Democratic voters, with 24% black, 15% Hispanic, and 7% asian. And in fact, in states whose demographics mostly match these numbers (such as Ohio and Nevada), Clinton has consistently done well, much better than Sanders.
In fact, the only kind of state where Sanders is consistently doing well are states that have a caucus instead of a primary. If all states had a primary, then, as Silver puts it, “Sanders couldn’t even maintain the pretense of a competitive race”.