After losing by a considerable margin to Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton conceded the contest in a speech heavy with appeals to minority voters.
She addressed equal pay for women and worker protections for LGBT Americans, but lent special focus to issues important to the African-American community: “We have to break through the barriers of bigotry,” she said. “African-American parents shouldn’t have to worry that their children will be harassed, humiliated, shot.”
“It isn’t right that the kids I met in Flint on Sunday were poisoned because their governor wanted to save money,” she noted, referring to the water crisis in Michigan that has come to represent, for many, the disconnect between government and the needs of communities of color.
The speech signals what’s ahead for Clinton. Forthcoming races—the Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary—have much more diverse electorates than lily-white New Hampshire and Iowa. Clinton holds a considerable lead over Sanders among non-white voters: 63% to 20% among blacks and 54% to 33% among Latinos, according to a Jan. 2016 poll conducted by NBC News.
This is perhaps because Clinton has marketed herself as the candidate to continue the legacy of Barack Obama—who enjoys a high approval rating among minorities—whereas senator Sanders believes the president’s policies have fallen short.
Sanders is approaching the issue from a different angle. A video recently released by the campaign, emphasizing the diversity of the senator’s supporters, proclaims: “Our job is not to divide, our job is to bring people together.”
Whether minority voters will respond well to more direct appeals remains to be seen. Recent gaffes, such as Clinton’s #NotMyAbuela kerfuffle, are still fresh in the minds of some voters. It’s also possible that Clinton will be moved to more expressly address how her husband’s policies exacerbated the disproportionate incarceration of African-American men during and after his tenure—an opportunity ripe for potential missteps.
The wheels are already turning in Clinton’s camp. The Associate Press reports that Clinton allies have formed a new, $25 million political organization, Every Citizen Counts, aimed at expanding voter protections and encouraging turnout among African Americans and Latinos.
This post has been updated.