Bernie Sanders Support From Black Voters Tanked After Campaign Hailed Joe Rogan Endorsement, New Poll Shows

Sanders has struggled to win the backing of African American voters, and new data shows Rogan's endorsement may have hurt him further.

Bernie Sanders shades his eyes.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Sanders has struggled to win the backing of African American voters, and new data shows Rogan's endorsement may have hurt him further.

Last month, comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan said on his program that he was likely to vote for Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential election. The Vermont senator’s campaign quickly seized on the quasi-endorsement, touting Rogan’s remark in a Twitter post — despite the shock jock’s documented history of remarks that are widely construed as racist and misogynistic.

On Friday, a new poll released by YouGov and The Economist appeared to show that the Sanders campaign’s unapologetic defense of Rogan — who once compared African American neighborhoods to Planet of the Apes — cost him half of his support among black voters.

A Mediaite summary of the poll noted that in the same survey just one week earlier, Sanders enjoyed 17 percent support among black voters nationwide. But in the Economist/YouGov poll released this week, his backing among African Americans had suddenly shrunk to just 8 percent.

No Democratic candidate for president has earned the party’s nomination without coming in first among black voters since Michael Dukakis in 1988, according to an NBC News report. In that year, Reverend Jesse Jackson, a civil rights leader and associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, won 92 percent of African American support in the Democratic primary.

Bernie Sanders stands in from of a photo of Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton (pictured in background) won an overwhelming victory over Bernie Sanders (foreground) among black voters in 2016. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Since then, black voter support has determined the Democratic nominee in five consecutive election cycles in which an incumbent president was not a candidate —and eight straight overall. This started with Bill Clinton in 1992, until most recently, his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gained the nomination largely on the strength of her 77 percent black voter support, defeating Sanders in 2016.

In the same Economist/YouGov poll from this week, former Vice President Joe Biden led the demographic by a wide margin, with 43 percent black voter support. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (14 percent) and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (12 percent) also performed better than Sanders among African Americans.

In fact, nearly one out of every four black voters (23 percent) said that they would be “disappointed” if Sanders were the Democratic nominee. Only Hawaii congressional rep Tulsi Gabbard (27 percent) would cause greater disappointment by winning the nomination.

In a statement, the Sanders campaign defended its promotion of Rogan’s endorsement, saying that it touted the comments by the UFC television commentator because the campaign’s goal was to “build a multi-racial, multi-generational movement” that could defeat Donald Trump in the November general election.

Rogan later walked back his seeming endorsement of Sanders, saying that he really did not know who should be president.

“I’m a f*****g moron,” he said, as quoted by Mediaite. “Maybe we’re better off with Trump.”