Bernie Sanders Has A Big Problem In South Carolina -- Black Supporters, Or Lack Thereof

Recent polls shows Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders lagging behind rival Hillary Clinton when it comes to the number of black supporters. A CNN poll revealed that Clinton is leading among black voters.

Bernie Sanders gathered his supporters in Charleston, South Carolina, on Tuesday to pitch his candidacy in a state that is slowly getting to know him. Sanders talked about civil rights, Wall Street, and fair wage reforms. The Vermont senator also attended a Tuesday prayer breakfast with African-American church leaders in Columbia.

His campaign centered mostly on the rights of the working class. "Together, we're going to create an economy that works for working families … not just the one Percent," the Vermont Senator said in his speech. "What does that mean? That means in America, someone who works 40 hours a week should not live in poverty."

Those lines won him many supporters in Iowa and ensured his victory in New Hampshire. However, his chances of winning South Carolina are rather bleak. In South Carolina, Clinton is notably more popular among voters over 45, while Sanders is popular among the younger electorate. However, what makes things different in this state is that the black vote is the most crucial, as African-Americans are likely to make up the majority of the South Carolina voters. Most of them support the Clintons.

According to polls released by CNN, Hillary Clinton got 65 percent of South Carolina black voters, while Bernie Sanders got 28 percent. White voters favor Sanders with 54 percent compared to Clinton's 40 percent. Black American women generally favor Clinton, who positions herself as a champion of women.

Despite the low poll results, Sanders advised his supporters to not lose hope. "We were 50 points behind in the polls, and we ended up with a virtual tie," he said of the Iowa caucuses. "In New Hampshire, we were 30 points down and we won. I am almost embarrassed to tell you how far behind we are here." According to CNN, overall, the former Secretary of State leads sanders in South Carolina 56 percent to 38 percent.

The younger voters are drawn to his message of economic and criminal justice, health care, and public education reforms. In Columbia, Sanders harped on criminal justice issues, saying he dreams to see the day "when young black males and women can walk the streets without being worried about being harassed by a police officer."

Sanders was reportedly joined by Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, who died after being held in a police chokehold in 2014. Another Bernie Sander supporter who attended the gathering was South Carolina Rep. Justin T. Bamberg, the African-American lawyer for the family of Walter Scott, who was an unarmed black motorist that was shot dead last April by a North Charleston, S.C. cop.

However, Sanders still has to establish good and lasting relationships with the public since many people in South Carolina barely know him. When Clinton spoke in Harlem, she highlighted the importance of building relationships with people.

"You can't just show up at election time and say the right things and think that's enough," Clinton said. "You can't start building relationships a few weeks before a vote and think that's enough."

According to campaign manager Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders and his camp are aware of this problem, which is why they have paid canvassers who go door to door in the African-American community to spread the senator's candidacy. They also have been airing ads on black-oriented radio stations and TV that emphasize his commitment to civil rights. With their efforts, the Sanders campaign remains positive that they will be able to boost the senator's popularity in South Carolina before the elections start.

[Image by Spencer Platt, Getty Images]