Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has been stumping in South Carolina in hopes of displacing her rival – Joe Biden (D) – who holds a strong lead in the early primary state, particularly among black voters.
As recent national polls suggest, Warren is on Biden’s heels nationally, but Biden seems to have a lock on South Carolina– a crucial early primary state. A Change Research survey released last week showed the former vice president leading with 36 percent support — 19 points ahead of Warren, who came in second place with 17 percent support. Biden’s massive lead is, in part, due to his support among black voters in South Carolina. A Monmouth University survey released last month also showed Biden dominating the field in South Carolina with 39 percent support. The survey suggested that “more than six-in-ten likely Democratic primary voters are African American,” as Breitbart News reported.
Warren is hoping the tide will turn in her favor and spent the weekend attempting to appeal to black voters in the state.
Lessie Price, the first vice-chair of the state’s Democratic Party, introduced Warren to a crowd in Aiken, South Carolina, Saturday and said the Massachusetts senator’s ideas resonate with the black community.
“Oftentimes, it’s getting that message out over and over and over, and someone starts hearing it,” Price said, according to the Washington Post.
Speaking to a black church is particularly sensitive, she said. “The church in the past has been a rallying point to really see what a candidate is truly about,” Price said. “You have to change your message in that setting.”
Warren spoke at Reid Chapel AME Church Sunday and did just that. She “adjusted her rhetoric” for the congregation, according to the Washington Post:
Rather than her usual firebrand stemwinder, she talked about her hardscrabble biography, including an anecdote about how she once struggled to control an unruly fifth-grade Sunday school class.
“They cut each others’ hair during the art project,” Warren said, adding touch of Southern cadence to her voice. “Oh! They spilled things on each others’ clothes. It was wild. The boys climbed out the window.”
Warren said she used the story of Noah and the ark to capture the imagination of the class. “I started asking the kids about duty, about what we owe to each other,” Warren said. Eventually, she said, a student landed on the answer, saying, “We owe each other that everybody gets a turn,” a comment that fits into her rationale for running for president.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) – Warren’s far-left ideological ally – has seemingly struggled to appeal to black voters in the state in recent days. He appeared in South Carolina over the weekend and talked about his sweeping criminal justice reform plan – which emphasizes implicit bias training and the ultimate goal of cutting the prison population in half – to a group at an event hosted by Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia. However, Sanders drew a mostly white crowd.
“The overall effect — a crowd of largely white outsiders descending on a weekly lunch for a black church — alienated several churchgoers,” the Washington Post reported.
According to the Washington Examiner, Sanders’ town hall in Columbia drew just 300 people. Warren’s Aiken town hall, however, drew 900 people– a stark contrast.
As the Examiner reports:
On Saturday evening, Warren drew so many people that they could campaign stop in Aiken, about an hour away from Columbia. Warren briefly addressed an overflow crowd of about 325 outside the venue before speaking to about 600 people in the University of South Carolina Aiken Business and Education Building gymnasium.
While Warren seems to be faring better than her counterpart, she still has a long way to go to challenge Biden’s strong lead in the state. The current Real Clear Politics average shows Biden up with a comfortable 38 percent lead. He is ahead of Sanders and Warren, who have 14.3 percent support and 12.7 percent support in South Carolina, respectively.
Warren’s “spiritual adviser” Rev. Miniard Culpepper – pastor of Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Boston – does not seem concerned about Warren’s ability to gain the support of black voters.
“They’ll be there,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “She’s just hitting her stride.”All eyes will be on the first three primary states in the coming months. As recent polls suggest, Sanders is surging in New Hampshire, Warren is gaining steam in Iowa, and while Biden has a stronghold on South Carolina, Warren is working to change that.