Former NAACP chief’s endorsement signals lackluster Clinton support, expert says

by William G. Gilroy

Darren Davis Darren Davis

Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders’ standing among black voters could receive a boost with the expected endorsement of Benjamin Jealous, who served as president of the NAACP from 2008 to 2013. Jealous is expected to appear with Sanders in New Hampshire Friday (Feb. 5) and offer his endorsement.

Darren Davis, a professor of political science and an associate vice president for research at the University of Notre Dame, notes that political endorsements are primarily symbolic, but Jealous’ endorsement is more symbolic than most.

“The NAACP is not the civil rights organization it used to be,” Davis said. “While struggling to find a niche in today’s civil rights debate, the NAACP has lost a great deal of its relevance and power. Therefore, an endorsement from the NAACP may not be that significant to African-American voters.

“While the endorsement is symbolic, it conveys that Hillary Clinton is not the ‘heir apparent’ to President Barack Obama or Bill Clinton when it comes to the African-American vote. This means that Hillary Clinton’s ideas have not resonated with African-American voters, but that Bernie Sanders’ tough talk on crime, race relations, civil rights and recent killings of young African-American men by the police have captured the attention of many in the civil rights community.

“If Hillary Clinton goes on to receive the Democratic nomination, the NAACP’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders does not convey the type of energy and excitement for Hillary Clinton that can influence voter turnout among African-American voters.”

Contact: Darren Davis, 574-631-5654,