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Now that the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have moved to states with more diverse populations, African-American voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on the 2016 race, especially in the Democratic primaries.

Donald J. Trump and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders easily dominated their respective party’s primary in New Hampshire, with the businessman leading the GOP roster and the Vermont lawmaker topping his Democratic rival.

What a difference nearly a week can make. In the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1., Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas won the largest percentage of the Republican votes and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won a razor-thin victory over Sanders.

Both Iowa and New Hampshire are Whiter than the rest of the country — 92 percent and 94 percent respectively.

Voters will now be casting ballots in South Carolina and Nevada later this month and Super Tuesday on March 1 in more than a dozen states, representing even more diversified populations.

In these upcoming contests the African-American vote will be a major factor in the Democratic primaries, as Clinton tries to avoid a repeat of 2008.

But despite their voting strength in the Democratic primary, how African American use this power and hold candidates accountable will determine whether their issues will be addressed or ignored in the political arena.

Blacks suffer a major disadvantage when it comes to having their concerns and plights addressed, according to a study published last year by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a non-partisan, nonprofit think tank dedicated to expanding opportunities for people of color.

“The policies enacted between 1972 and 2010 were in line with the self-reported interests of whites 37.6 percent, the author found, citing a recent analysis,” The Washington Post reported about the study. “Blacks were policy ‘winners’ 31.9 percent of the time. That gap was about 14 times the size of the difference between men and women and 10 times the size of the gap between low-and high-income earners.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

The candidates should have their records scrutinized and be extensively and intensively questioned on their stances on the issues that disproportionately affect African-American voters.

No one presidential candidate should be led to think he or she can take for granted or can ignore the African-American vote. The presidential candidates should have to work for those votes.

It is important for African-Americans voters to demand that candidates appeal to their interests, as any other important voting bloc.

Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune


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