In the 2008 presidential primary, Democrats chose between a black candidate and a white candidate. Yes, that described the race of the two leading rivals,but also their constituencies: Barack Obama won 82 percent of African-American votes, while Hillary Clinton won most whites, including 62 percent of whites without a college degree.At The New York Times, Noam Scheiber notes that African Americans tend to be more upbeat about the economy than other groups, and that they have benefited more from the Affordable Care Act:
In 2016, once again, throughout most of the primary campaign, there’s been a black candidate and a white candidate—when it comes to their supporters, anyway. Only this time, it’s Clinton who’s racking up the black vote, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who has been leading among whites, especially the white working class, while losing roughly 4–1 among the African-American voters who are the bedrock of the Democratic Party. In states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Michigan, Sanders beat Clinton among whites without a college degree. And this time, it’s Sanders who is making the political case for the importance of winning back white voters, particularly working-class whites, to the Democratic Party, as Clinton did eight years ago
Larry Cohen, a senior adviser to Mr. Sanders and past president of the Communications Workers of America, said that Mrs. Clinton’s perceived loyalty to the administration, as well as the nearly uniform support for Mrs. Clinton within the black political establishment, especially in the South, were key factors in limiting Mr. Sanders’s support among African-Americans.
Others largely agree. “I don’t think you can discount how important President Obama is,” said Stanley B. Greenberg, a former Clinton White House pollster who recently conducted focus groups with African-American voters in Philadelphia and Cleveland. “Obama and his election and re-election is seen as on a scale of what the civil rights movement achieved.”
He added that Mrs. Clinton, by way of her service in the administration and her eagerness to defend the president’s policies on the campaign trail, “is seen as having a more instinctive identification with Obama.”
I’m intrigued by the parallels to the 2008 campaign perhaps because it’s where FiveThirtyEight cut its teeth. I spent a lot of time in the spring of 2008 arguing that Obama’s lead in elected delegates would be hard for Clinton to overcome. But Clinton’s lead over Sanders is much larger than Obama’s was over Clinton at a comparable stage of the race. At the end of February 2008, after a favorable run of states for Obama, he led Clinton by approximately 100 elected delegates. Clinton’s lead is much larger this year.1 Clinton entered Tuesday’s contests ahead of Sanders by approximately 220 elected delegates. But she’ll net approximately 70 delegates from Florida, 20 from Ohio, 15 from North Carolina and a handful from Illinois and Missouri. That will expand her advantage to something like 325 elected delegates.