Former vice president Joe Biden is by far the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination among Black Americans, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, says a new Washington Post poll. What is unique, the survey says, is that Biden’s support in the Black community doesn’t hold across all sub-groups. 

Sanders is leading among Black voters under age 35, replicating his success with younger White voters in other national polls.

In the competition for the Democratic nomination, Sanders is at 20% among Black Democrats, followed by Warren at 9%. Buttigieg’s 2% support ties him with wealthy businessman Tom Steyer but slightly behind Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg at 4% each and the entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 3%.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who had a small breakthrough in Iowa, receives less than 1% support among Black voters, as does former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, the other African American candidate tested along with Booker.

When second choices are combined with first choices, Biden stands at 64%, Sanders at 42%, Warren at 28% and Booker at 12%. No other candidate rises to double digits in the combined first- and second-choice rankings of African American voters.

Former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is among the leaders in polls in the predominantly White states of Iowa and New Hampshire but stands at 2% among Democratic Black voters nationally. A lack of familiarity with him and concerns about his experience and sexual orientation appear to be contributing to his current standing. Buttigieg has said that as African Americans get to know him, he will gain more support, but the poll undercuts that assertion.

The results, highlighting the views of a group that historically has played a significant role in determining the outcome of the Democratic nominating contest, help to explain the enduring strength of Biden’s candidacy. Despite questions about his age, his past positions on forced school busing and his relationships with Southern segregationist senators, the poll shows that 48% of Black Democrats favor him for the nomination — a 28-point advantage over Sanders.

The survey, conducted by The Post and the nonpartisan research firm Ipsos, is one of the most extensive studies to date of views on the 2020 campaign among Black voters, who, like other minority groups, are often represented by only small samples in customary national polls. It was conducted among 1,088 non-Hispanic Black adults, including 900 registered voters, drawn from a large online survey panel recruited through random sampling of U.S. households.

More than 8 in 10 African American adults say the outcome of the 2020 election is important to them, and 79% say it is important to them personally that Trump not win a second term, with 66% saying that is “extremely” important to them.

Trump performs poorly among Black voters when matched against any potential Democratic nominee. He wins just 4 or 5 percent of Black voters when tested against eight Democratic candidates individually.

The Post-Ipsos survey’s large sample size illuminates the contours of Biden’s support among different subsets of the Black electorate.

Age is the sharpest dividing line among Black Democratic voters. Though Biden leads his rivals by more than 2 to 1 overall, he trails Sanders by 42% to 30% among Black Democrats ages 18 to 34.

Sanders’s support falls to 16% among Black Democrats ages 35 to 49, far lower than Biden’s 41% support in this group. Biden’s support strengthens among older Democrats, rising to 68% among those 65 and older.

While Democrats boasted the most racially diverse field of candidates in history at the start of the presidential campaign, all six of the candidates who have gained enough support in polls and campaign donations to qualify for the next candidate debate, set for Tuesday in Iowa, are White. If a White candidate wins the nomination, 27 percent of Black Democrats say it is “very” or “fairly” important that the person choose a vice presidential running mate who is Black, while 35 percent say this is “not so important” and 38 percent say it is “not at all important.”

A majority of Democratic-leaning Blacks (57 percent) say the most important thing they are looking for in a Democratic nominee is a likelihood of beating Trump. One-third say they want someone closest to them on issues, and 9 percent say they are looking for the candidate who has the strongest personal character. Biden leads on all of those.

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