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The Sanders campaign met controversy last week after a data breach allowed them to access to private data managed by the Clinton campaign. | Photo Courtesy of Gage // Wikimedia Commons

Although nationally the two Democratic presidential front-runners Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have struggled to hold and maintain their favorability among black voters, Penn students believe both candidates have something to offer black constituents.

In the last presidential election, 93 percent of the black vote went to the Democratic candidate Barack Obama. However, his immense popularity among black voters has not translated nationally to the Democratic front-runners.

A June CNN/ORC poll showed just two percent of black Democrats supported Sanders. A more recent poll by CNN in October found just three percent of black South Carolina voters favored Sanders — the largest black population of the early primary states.

Despite Sanders’ lack of a support among black voters, College junior Adam Reid, who is African-American, feels that Bernie Sanders is the best choice for black voters.

“In my opinion, he is the most outspoken candidate about social inequality and other issues that speak directly to minorities,” Reid said.

Reid admires Sanders for speaking on unpopular issues that benefit minorities.

“He isn’t afraid to take a stance on controversial topics that involve minority lives,” Reid said.

His lack of popularity nationally is due in large part to the fact that he is still unfamiliar to many voters. A July Suffolk and USA Today poll found that 35 percent of black voters were unfamiliar with the candidate.

“I haven’t seen him engaging the black community. Nor am I hearing any chatter about him,” said Rick Wade, Obama for America’s African-American vote director in an interview with CNN in July. “Black voters don’t know him.”

But Sanders’ profile among black voters has shifted in recent months. An October Suffolk and USA Today poll showed that the number of black voters who are unaware of Sanders has dropped to five percent, but he still trails behind Clinton in this voting group.

Even Clinton, who initially had a large advantage among black voters — carrying 80 percent favorability among black adults in an August Gallup survey — has begun to decline in this category nationally. The October USA Today/Suffolk poll found that Clinton had dropped in popularity among black voters by 31 points.

But this hasn’t dissuaded Wharton junior Pierson Devers, a black student, from taking an active role in Hillary’s campaign. He is a board member of Penn for Hillary.

“I think her mere presence in office will help do that, considering she’d be following an African-American president as the first female president,” Devers said. “I think that will be a big push for all underrepresented groups in America.”

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