When Brittany King mailed in her absentee ballot to Indiana for Bernie Sanders, she thought she was investing in the “political revolution.” But after the senator lost the Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and Delaware primaries last week, King is having a bout of buyer’s remorse.
“I just feel [my vote] was kind of a waste,” said the University of Missouri, Columbia, senior. She now wishes she had voted for Hillary Clinton instead.
Like many young black progressives I’ve spoken to over the past six months, King threw her support behind Sanders because of his call for free college education, stance against Wall Street, and outspokenness against economic inequality. But after several defeats in key primaries, she has little hope Sanders will win her home state on Tuesday.
According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Sunday, Sanders trails Clinton 46-50, so he appears to have a fighting chance. But, even if he does win Indiana, the math still won’t add up in his favor, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. ABC News reports that if Clinton wins just 24 of Indiana’s 83 pledged delegates, Sanders won’t be able to capture the nomination outright.
Voters who will physically go to the booths Tuesday have the option of considering the latest polls and candidates’ most current chances of capturing the nomination. When King sent her ballot in last Monday, analysts estimated Sanders had a sliver of hope. After he lost Pennsylvania, that sliver all but disappeared. But once King mailed her ballot in, that was it.
Last summer, King was especially impressed by how Sanders handled Black Lives Matter activists who disrupted his panel at Netroots Nation. He, along with other Democratic presidential candidates, were criticized for not addressing police brutality. Sanders, in particular, was pressed during the disruption to customize his economic platform to highlight the needs of black Americans. It was an intense encounter, but one that convinced King that Sanders was her candidate.
“Within the next week, he put out a plan for what he said he would do to address their concerns,” she said. “I think that was the perfect reaction to have. I haven’t seen any other candidate have that reaction to protesters. And not only did he let them speak, he did something about what they were speaking about. That really mattered to me.”
Sanders was never really able to convert enough young black voters like King (or any demographic of black people for that matter), though. Though she still speaks highly of Sanders, a candidate she believes speaks to her values, King wishes she could change her vote.
Many political observers, including me, have long criticized Sanders for failing to tap into the black progressive political community and for not adjusting his economic policy stump speeches when addressing black audiences. It’s clear that Sanders knows the economic disparities black Americans face, but he has struggled to articulate how they could benefit from the “political revolution” so many of his white supporters have been drawn to.
And it’s too late for him to make any adjustments now. It’s also too late for King.
Though she is convinced Sanders is the better candidate, she now believes she should have joined her mom and cast her ballot for Clinton, who is all but certain to be the Democratic nominee.
“Maybe it’s a bad way of looking at it, but I want to feel like my vote actually matters,” she said. “Hillary has a good platform, too. I just think Bernie speaks to me more. But after seeing the results in from Pennsylvania, I definitely would have changed by vote before sending it in on Monday.”
Terrell Jermaine Starr is National Political Correspondent for Fusion. You can follow him on Twitter @Russian_Starr.