Buttigieg: A massive race gap
Pete Buttigieg faces a “giant” obstacle to becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, said Chris Smith in VanityFair.com. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., is the new front-runner in the overwhelmingly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire. But “Mayor Pete,” as fans call him, is astonishingly unpopular among minorities; in the fourth primary state, South Carolina, the Quinnipiac poll found that Buttigieg’s support among black voters is 0 percent. Right: zero. That’s a huge red flag, considering every Democratic presidential nominee in modern times has won a majority of African-Americans, who compose 25 percent of the party’s registered voters. Ironically, said Ed Kilgore in NYMag.com, Buttigieg’s rhetorical gifts and pragmatic, center-left politics “are strikingly reminiscent” of Barack Obama’s, yet no candidate seems less likely to revive the winning “Obama coalition.” If he can’t win over black voters, he won’t be the nominee.
Why should an ineffective, small-town mayor be president? asked The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Since Buttigieg became mayor of South Bend in 2012, “the city’s violent crime has surged 70 percent” compared with about 10 percent in the rest of Indiana. “One persistent problem is a long-standing lack of trust between police and the community,” which Buttigieg exacerbated by demoting the city’s first black police chief (who was under FBI investigation) and then overcompensating by saying that “all police work” takes place “in the shadow of racism.” In black communities, Buttigieg comes off as “aloof and tone-deaf,” said Shermichael Singleton in The Hill. If Buttigieg can’t manage race in a city of 102,000, then he’s not equipped to do so as president.
Some Buttigieg backers are resorting to “smearing” black people, said Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post. A leaked campaign memo said the problem in South Carolina is that African-Americans are uncomfortable with Buttigieg’s homosexuality. As a black gay man, I can tell you that African-Americans have “evolved on LGBTQ equality,” and most Christian blacks now oppose anti-gay discrimination. Instead of commissioning more focus groups, “Buttigieg needs to talk directly to black voters.” He speaks eloquently about how his faith shapes his politics, and that should be a big plus with African-Americans. “You want the black vote,” Mayor Pete? Then treat black people “like they and their votes matter—because they do.”