Move Over Bernie Bros…Poll Finds Strong Support For Bernie Among Black Women

Surprising Numbers for Trump; Personal History Key to Handling Biden’s “Creepiness”, Lingering Controversy

New Haven, Conn.: April 29, 2018 — A new VoterLabs poll finds a dramatic shift in support for Bernie Sanders among black Democratic women.

The national survey of black Democratic women likely to vote in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries conducted April 19–24 showed Sanders leading Biden, 28% to 14.5%. Undecided took the third spot, with 12% of black female Democrats not yet ready to back anyone, while Elizabeth Warren (6.9%) and Kamala Harris (6.1%) find themselves rounding out the top five, in a statistical dead heat for fourth place. No other candidate broke 5%.

While this survey was conducted just prior to Joe Biden entering the race, the results indicate that, in comparison to 2016, support has increased for Sanders among this crucial segment of the Democratic coalition.

Identity Verification and Voter History Used To ID Likely Voters

Likely voters were determined using VoterLabs identity resolution technology to provide the most accurate results available.

VoterLabs’ verifies the identity of respondents then syncs respondents with their voter data, using its patented A.I. powered identity resolution technology, first debuted in 2016.

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A Reversal of Fortunes for Sanders

The results of the poll mark a dramatic turnaround for Sanders who had notable trouble gaining traction with communities of color in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries.

“What people didn’t understand in 2016 is that black voters didn’t dislike Sanders, they just had a much stronger affinity with Hillary Clinton due to her decades of working with various segments of the Democratic coalition, first as First Lady, her husband Bill Clinton famously being called the ‘first black president’ by Toni Morrison, then as a political and diplomatic figure in her own right.” said Walter Kawecki, CEO of data and analytics from VoterLabs.

“That being said, there is some truth to the story that there was friction between Sanders and some in the black community. Besides leading the field in support, he also has the highest unfavorables with 14% of black Democratic women feeling negatively toward him. Now the key question is, will Sanders’ support with black Democratic women erode now that Biden has entered the race.” added Kawecki.

Oldest Candidates Leading Polls

Mirroring the results of other recent polls, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden lead the pack both in terms of support and age, being the two oldest of the more prominent candidates. Only former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, polling at 1.6% is older. First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1960, and serving until 1981, Gravel will be 90 years old on Inauguration Day 2021.

“Obviously, experience can factor into voter preference, but it may also be that, as are part of their personal brands, Bernie and Biden are connecting at a more emotional, authentic level.” said Tom Frederick, a Senior Analyst with VoterLabs.

A Surprising Level of Support for Trump

Interestingly, 29% of respondents had a favorable or neutral opinion of Donald Trump. Of those polled 16% responded that they “really like him” or “he’s okay”, with an additional almost 13% unsure or undecided, a much different picture than the one portrayed in most media.

“Trump’s numbers with black Democratic women show that his populist message still resonates with many. Given that Sanders also has a heavily populist message, and is currently enjoying strong support in this community, Trump’s numbers shouldn’t be that surprising.

“It’s also important to remember that Hillary Clinton badly underperformed with this group in 2016. Turnout among black Democratic women dropped from around 68% in 2008 and 70% in 2012, to about 64% in 2016.

“I think the take away here is that, to avoid a repeat of 2016, an emotionally resonant populist appeal, delivered in a way voters deem authentic, will be key to turning out this crucial Democratic constituency.“ said Walter Kawecki, the firm’s founder and CEO.

“The 2020 presidential contest may well hinge on whether black Democratic women turn out or stay home. Failure to maximize turnout among this potentially pivotal segment of the Democratic coalition could prove disastrous for the party’s nominee. Trump’s number show that Democrats should take this seriously.” added Kawecki

“Trump’s numbers with black Democratic women show that his populist message still resonates with many.”

For Biden, Future May Depend On Past

In seeking to gauge the impact of allegations of inappropriate touching by Joe Biden, survey respondents were asked their opinion of the situation. As some have put forth, Biden’s behavior may have more to do with his personal history rather than any sort of nefarious or ulterior motive.

While 47% showed some level of support for Biden when asked their feelings on Biden in the context of the controversy, nearly 28% thought the allegations were enough to disqualify him from consideration.

Eighteen percent (18%) chose to characterize Biden as “creepy”, including about 8% of his own supporters.

However, when presented with information about the 1972 car accident that killed a 30 year old Biden’s young wife and 1 year old daughter, many reconsidered.

Of those who answered hadn’t heard about the incident, or were unsure if they had, a full 25% reconsidered their previous position Biden.

“Clearly this is good news for Biden. His personal narrative may prove powerful to help repair some of the damage he’s sustained and recapture the goodwill of rank and file Democratic electorate.” commented Kawecki.

Finally, in what may be a sign of continued economic uncertainty to those not at the top, VoterLabs’ survey found that, along with race relations, healthcare and the economy topped the list of concerns for this constituency.


  • The survey was conducted on iOS and Android devices in-app within over 100 different mobile applications.
  • The national sample consisted of 689 black Democratic female voter file matched voters likely to vote in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries based on identity matching and election turnout history, with a margin of error of +/- 4%.


VoterLabs, Inc. works with political organizations, businesses and enterprise clients to better understand supporters, customers and audiences by realizing the full potential of data enrichment and analytics. Customers have included political organizations at all levels, including the 2016 presidential. Products and services include Mobile Survey Research, VoterLabs Text-to-Donate with Mobile ID Sync, TargetMatch self-service data enrichment, and data modeling, analysis and microtargeting.

Walter J. Kawecki, VoterLabs