Even at the height of the Democratic Party’s freakout over Biden’s chances of beating President Trump and its flirtation with former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg earlier this year, Aunt Gloria resolutely stayed the course. “If anything, he needs to throw his support to Biden,” the retired accountant said of Bloomberg before Super Tuesday, which is exactly what he did after Biden won 10 of the 14 states that voted in the March 3 primaries.
After Biden’s Super Tuesday blowout, Aunt Gloria, who cast her ballot for Biden in the North Carolina primary, sent me an email to say, “Since this is an unconventional election, I think Elizabeth Warren would be a great running mate for Biden.” Two months later, as the veep speculation started heating up, she still wanted the Massachusetts senator and former presidential candidate to get the nod. “She has the qualifications and experience. There is a lot to restore in the world and the country. There is no time to train anyone,” my aunt said of Warren. “It is going to take both of them along with other qualified people to restore the country for the next generation.”
But what about an African American woman? “I am going for experience, who has the experience and is known nationally. Would love to see a black candidate, but the only thing important is beating Trump,” said Aunt Gloria, unmoved by arguments like mine that the former vice president should choose an African American woman as his running mate. “Warren would pull young people and [Sen. Bernie ] Sanders [I-Vt.] supporters.”
Some of you might be asking: Who is your Aunt Gloria, and why do you keep writing and tweeting about her? The answer is because Aunt Gloria has turned out to be a great bellwether for me for what the die-hard base of the Democratic Party — African American women — was thinking and how that group would vote. She was right about Biden becoming the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and now a new Post-Ipsos poll of African Americans released last week shows she is not alone in not putting a premium on a black woman for Biden’s running mate.
The survey of African Americans age 18 and older shows a near-even split on the question of “how important is it to you, if at all, that Biden choose a vice-presidential running mate who is a black woman?” Fifty percent said it was “important,” and 49 percent said it was “not important.” That’s a considerable tightening and swing since the question was asked in this poll back in January, when 72 percent said a black running mate for a white Democratic presidential nominee was “less important.”
And then there is the question of whom Biden should pick. I’m already on record saying he should choose Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.). You can read my rationale here. But Aunt Gloria’s early support for Warren didn’t come as too much of a surprise.
During her presidential campaign, Warren made a concerted effort to court black female voters. One attendee at the She the People Presidential Forum in April 2019 told the New York Times that Warren “hit it out of the park, to be honest.” Warren was second to Biden in support among African Americans in a Quinnipiac University poll released last September. Two months later, Black Womxn For, which describes itself as “an organizing collective of leaders, activists, artists, writers, and political strategists from across the country in the fight for Black Liberation,” released a full-throated endorsement of Warren.
Ever since Warren ended her campaign in March, she and Harris, who ended her campaign last December, have been the most talked-about potential running mates for Biden. A Morning Consult-Politico poll released in May showed that 34 percent of black voters surveyed said they would be more likely to vote for Biden if either Warren or Harris were on the ticket. They also received comparable support of those under age 45, which is a major reason Aunt Gloria is pushing for Warren. “I don’t think this generation is going to want my generation naming their next leader,” she said after mentioning that the youth and diversity of the nationwide protests against the police killing of George Floyd were guiding her thinking.
I have two relatively minor concerns when it comes to Warren. At 71 years old, she is more a contemporary of Biden’s than the “bridge” to the next generation of leaders the former vice president talked about in March as Harris, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stood behind him. Also, if a Biden-Warren ticket were to win, the Republican governor of Massachusetts would appoint Warren’s replacement. That person would be in the seat until a special election is held between 145 days and 160 days after Warren submits her letter of resignation. And there is no guarantee that a Democrat would win the seat back. (See Scott Brown in 2010.) With the Senate now in play, it’s hard to imagine Biden or Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) doing anything that could hurt the chances for a Democratic majority.
With all the talk that Biden must choose a woman of color and a black woman in particular, there is the distinct possibility that the former vice president will choose a white woman to be his running mate. And everything, from the polls of black voters to Aunt Gloria, makes two things clear: A white female running mate for Biden is not unacceptable and that the white woman most favored by African Americans is Warren.
Update 10:40 a.m.: Twitter follower @tify330 pointed something out that I completely forgot. On June 1, I sent out a tweet alerting everyone to the fact that Aunt Gloria had switched her VP pick from Warren to Harris. In an email to me on May 31 reacting to the Black Lives Matter protests, Aunt Gloria wrote: “After what has happened this weekend, the only way to unite the country is to have a person of color as a the Vice Presidential candidate, Kamala Harris. This may be the only way to start healing the wounds. The pain is real.”
By the time I started writing a full column on June 21 about her switch, Aunt Gloria had switched back to Warren. “I just cannot go with Harris, that would be like passing the torch,” my aunt explained via email. “What is going on is so diverse I don’t think this generation is going to want my generation naming their next leader. I have to go with Warren.” In a follow-up email, she said “Young people want to pick their own candidate,” noting that her 40-year-old cousin and her cousin’s friends don’t like Harris. In short, Aunt Gloria is listening to the next generation in her life. I stopped writing.
A week later, the latest Post-Ipsos poll on African American voters and others on the vice-president question highlighting Warren showed that Aunt Gloria’s original position was where black voters appear to be. So, I wrote the column. I should have included her brief flirtation with Harris as VP in the piece. That I forgot I chalk up to my very own human error.
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