by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If Pete Buttigieg doesn’t win the Democratic nomination, it won’t be because African Americans were too homophobic to vote for him.
While the Buttigieg campaign has never explicitly endorsed this theory, it started the ball rolling back in July, when the Berenson Strategy Group, consulting with the Buttigieg campaign, conducted three focus groups with 24 uncommitted African-American voters in South Carolina and wrote up a memo on the results. They concluded, “Being gay was a barrier for these voters, particularly for the men who seemed deeply uncomfortable even discussing it. Their preference is for his sexuality to not be front and center.”
(Which voters want a presidential candidate’s sexuality to be front and center?)
That entire memo seemed tone-deaf and condescending, declaring, “They are going to need to see real demonstrations of broad enthusiasm and likely some endorsements from ‘cool’ black people to help them believe that ‘other people’ don’t have a problem with it and it won’t be a vulnerability in a general election matchup with Trump.”
Recent weeks have brought more signs that while Buttigieg is wowing Iowa caucusgoers and raking in the cash from the Democratic party’s donor class, he is, at least so far, getting nowhere with this demographic in this key early state. …
… But as much as the Buttigieg campaign might prefer to blame homophobia, it’s easy to find reasons — compelling reasons — why African Americans might not make him their first choice.