"No disrespect, but they don't speak for us."

When Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president, she couldn’t possibly believe she’d be walking into a battle between the “old” black vote and the “new” black vote. But that’s exactly where she is today, and a developing generation gap might cost her the votes she thought were in the bag.

When civil rights elders signed on to support Hillary Rodham Clinton’s run for president, it was seen as a coup in the competition for the black vote, especially in the Deep South.

Yet many younger black voters seem to be shrugging off the sway of leaders such as Rep. John Lewis and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, siding instead with Barack Obama’s history-making bid to be the nation’s first black president.

It’s a generational struggle that should serve as a warning to Democrats as they head into primary contests in states with large black populations: The black vote today is anything but monolithic.

It also suggests the influence the civil rights leaders have enjoyed as political kingmakers is waning.

“The figureheads are not actually gatekeepers to the black vote,” said William Jelani Cobb, a 38-year-old history professor at the historically black Spelman College.

“No disrespect, but they don’t speak for us.”

…and a voter with an opinion like that has to be terrifying to Hillary.

Tags:
2008 Election, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Black Caucus, Black Vote

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