With just two days to go, the 2016 South Carolina Democratic primary polls are throwing Bernie Sanders a stiff challenge in his quest to defeat Hillary Clinton. The latter candidate is holding a huge lead across the board in the southern state, the first of the region to hold primary elections.
Even worse news for Bernie, the South Carolina primary polls are likely to be fairly accurate. Unlike the minimal and outdated information that was available before the Nevada caucuses, nearly 10 polls were released last week that project more or less the same result: a strong grab of delegates for Hillary in the race for the 2016 Democratic nomination.
Still, it’s worth noting that there were differences in the predictions laid out by the 2016 South Carolina primary polls. While Democrats uniformly picked Clinton over Sanders, both candidates had around a 10 percent difference between their most impressive and least impressive showings.
For instance, one poll from American Research Group has Hillary at 61 percent, with a 29-point lead over Bernie at 32 percent — her largest spread in all of the listed primary surveys. That same spread was mirrored by another poll from Monmouth University. Democrats asked about their preferences for South Carolina by CNN and Gravis, however, chose Clinton by a slightly smaller margin. Coming in at 56 and 59 percent respectively in each poll, Hillary managed an 18-point lead over Sanders’ 38 and 41 percent. Also not boding well for Bernie, these two latter polls are also the least recent.
An average of these eight polls, calculated by Real Clear Politics, illustrates more or less the same result for the 2016 presidential primary in South Carolina. Clinton walks away with 57.4 percent of the vote in contrast to Sanders with 33.3 percent — just over a 24 percent difference between them. No matter which way you view the data, Hillary is coming in with a clear advantage on the Democratic side that will be almost impossible to beat.
South Carolina is an interesting state in the primaries for several reasons. One of those is that it is a state where black voters hold a slight majority of the primary electorate. Around 55 percent of of the state’s Democrats are of African descent. It’s an audience that both candidates have sought to court in the South Carolina primary as polls come to a close.
On Wednesday, The Atlantic ran on a piece on both Democratic hopefuls’ distinct strategies to woo this minority-gone-majority voter bloc in South Carolina. Despite her primary poll lead, Hillary’s campaign has continued to organize gatherings with locals in order to drive home her devotion to the struggles of the black community. At a campaign event in Bennettsville, the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Dontre Hamilton, Jordan Davis, and Eric Garner all took the stage to endorse her because, as Eric’s mother said, “she has endorsed us.” Dontre’s mother, Maria Hamilton, shared her personal story of Clinton’s sympathy when her son was killed by police in 2014.
“Hillary took it upon herself to listen to me when none of the leaders decided to lay in the street with us, march in the street with us, pour our hearts out and ask for help. Hillary heard my cry. When Hillary called me in March, and her staffer told me I didn’t have to rally people in the street to shut her rally down, that she would talk to me, it changed my life.”
Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, seems to have taken a look the 2016 South Carolina Democratic primary polls and decided to focus his efforts elsewhere. Though he did hold a few events in the state, it hasn’t quite been the large-scale effort seen by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Still, Bernie doesn’t have the same “establishment” issues as his presidential competition: also on Wednesday, Hillary was interrupted by a Black Lives Matter protester who demanded an apology for a 1994 speech where the former First Lady said at-risk youth needed to be “brought to heel.”
[Image via Andrew Burton and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]