By Sarita Chourey –
Black Democrats in South Carolina registered the highest rate of support for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. That’s according to Winthrop Poll results released Wednesday, which found 80 percent of black Democrats likely to vote in the presidential primary lean toward Clinton, compared to 71 percent of Democrats as a whole. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders received 15 percent and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley garnered 2 percent. South Carolina is home to the first primary in the South and represents the first time significant numbers of black voters will vet presidential hopefuls.
“African Americans constitute one of the most important constituencies for the Democratic Party,” said Winthrop Poll Director Scott Huffmon said. “African Americans can make up over 50 percent of the Democratic Presidential Primary vote in South Carolina, which is a much larger portion than you’ll see in the Iowa Caucus or New Hampshire primary.” On Friday Clinton gave the keynote speech at the Charleston NAACP banquet, honoring the families of the nine gunned down at the Emanuel AME Church in June, and addressing other topics, including racial profiling and gun violence. On Friday the former secretary of state will speak at a town hall held at historically black Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C. The event will be hosted by the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus and moderated by Roland Martin.
Last month Clinton’s campaign announced a list of more than 50 current and former African American mayors who had announced their support for her, including several in South Carolina: Anderson Taylor of Estill, Blain Crosby, of Bamberg, Terence Roberts of Anderson, Samuel Murray of Port Royal, Jefferson Johnson of Eutawville, Vernon Dunbar of New Ellenton, among others. While support for Clinton was resolute in the Winthrop Poll, other questions yielded less consensus.
Huffman said Democratic primary voters in South Carolina seem to be ambivalent about the potential effects of real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump. Results showed a divide among Democratic voters over which Republican would be the easiest and toughest to beat in the general election a year from now. Trump came in first in both categories. Twenty-three percent speculated that Trump would be the hardest foe for the Democratic nominee, while 38 percent thought he would be the easiest to beat. The Republican candidates ranking behind Trump in the question of how difficult he would be to beat were former Florida Governor Jeb Bush with 17 percent, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, 15 percent, and neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 13 percent.