West is a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement that disrupted two of Sanders’ earlier campaign events with protests, but he said those disruptions should stop as people get to know Sanders’ commitment to racial justice. Since he formally announced his campaign in May, Sanders has increased his focus on such issues and the need to combat poverty among African Americans.
Benedict freshman Dajana Baker, 19, of Greenville, S.C., said it’s important that Sanders continue to discuss issues involving race. “If we continue to ignore that in this country, it’s just creating denial and deceit,” said Baker, who is undecided on who she will support in 2016.
People who say they’re fed up with income inequality also have been drawn to Sanders’ proposals to help poor and middle class Americans, such as providing free college tuition at public schools, creating jobs with infrastructure investments and raising the federal minimum wage to $15-an-hour.
Becky Morton, 60, of Charlotte, was among about 3,000 who attended a rally at Winthrop University in nearby Rock Hill, S.C., on Saturday. She said jobs and social safety net issues are her concerns after being laid off by a major air carrier three months ago. “He’s probably far more to the left than I’ve ever been,” said Morton. “But…at least he’s pulling the conversation back to where I think the Democratic Party should be. Whether he has a chance at the nomination, that’s an open question.”
A CBS News/YouGov poll, released Sunday, showed Sanders leads Clinton by 10 percentage points in Iowa and 22 percentage points in New Hampshire, neighbor to Vermont. The poll showed 23 percent of South Carolina’s likely Democratic voters supported Sanders, compared to 46 percent for Clinton and 22 percent for Vice President Joe Biden, who has not entered the race. A Public Policy Polling survey of South Carolina Democratic voters released Sept. 9 showed only 9 percent supported Sanders.
Scott Huffmon, director of the Winthrop Poll, said Sanders’ difficulty is that his rallies have been drawing attendees who are predominantly white and young when black voters are likely to make up more than half of the Democratic primary electorate in the Palmetto state. “He needs to make himself known to this group that’s going to be absolutely critical,” he said.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, the state’s only Democrat in Congress, said he expects Clinton to sweep South Carolina – under present conditions. Clinton, who came in second in the 2008 South Carolina primary, has lined up support from dozens of mayors and community officials along with two former governors.
But Clyburn said the race here could be impacted greatly by outcomes in Iowa and New Hampshire, whether Vice President Joe Biden enters the race, and Clinton’s Oct. 22 congressional testimony on her role leading up to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. “A lot depends on how that hearing comes out,” said Clyburn, who won’t endorse a candidate until after the primary. “That could impact everything.”
Sanders plans to open more offices in South Carolina. But he’s also planning to invest in staff and look into advertising in Super Tuesday states and beyond. He scheduled events on Sunday in North Carolina and on Monday in Virginia, including a speech at the evangelical Christian Liberty University.
“We are now preparing for a full national campaign that goes beyond the first four states and given the enthusiasm that I am seeing as I go around this country, to be honest with you, we are feeling very, very good about where we are,” he said.