Sen. Cory A. Booker of New Jersey on Tuesday predicted that there will be a shift in black voter support after people take a look at the results from the Iowa caucuses in early February.
Mr. Booker said there is a level of “comfort” that some voters have with 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joseph R. Biden, whose standing among African-American voters has helped Mr. Biden retain significant leads in South Carolina even as he’s slipped elsewhere.
“The people at the top of the polls I know are attracting a lot of the attention right now, but I really believe [there’s] going to be a shift in African-American voters after Iowa, after people see who really is viable,” Mr. Booker said on CNN’s “New Day.”
He said President Barack Obama had trailed Hillary Clinton among black voters in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary before he showed he could win.
“Even with my family, I hear it: People are like, we’re so afraid, we want to beat Donald Trump, and I think there’s a comfort with people like Joe Biden thinking that hey, here’s a guy that’s vice president,” he said.
“But I really do believe that their support is soft, most voters have not made up their mind,” he said. “Let’s see in about 60, 70 days when the actual voting starts.”
Mr. Booker, who is African-American, had said at last week’s debate that black voters are “pissed off” because politicians only seem to pay attention to issues concerning their community when they’re hunting for votes.
He also joked that he thought Mr. Biden “might have been high” when he was hesitant to embrace full-blown legalization of marijuana and said the “war on drugs” has been a war on black and brown people.
“As far as the issues concerning our community, I’ve been fighting for them in an authentic way,” Mr. Booker said on Tuesday. “Even in the Senate, the only major bipartisan bill that passed was the one that I led on criminal justice reform. So this is something that is in my wheelhouse.”
Mr. Booker has yet to qualify for next month’s debate and has been polling in the single digits in many recent surveys on the 2020 Democratic presidential field. His campaign manager said in a memo on Tuesday that their focus in the coming weeks will go toward persuading voters so he can hit the necessary polling benchmarks to qualify.