Who Cares About Democratic Primary Results in South Carolina -- a State Democrats Will Lose in November?
I'll be the first to admit I'm no pollster or even political scientist, but when I read that Bernie Sanders is going to be crushed by Hillary Clinton in Saturday's primary in South Carolina, the state that fired the opening shots in the Civil War and that only last year took down a Confederate battle flag in front of the capitol building, I have to shake my head at the absurdity of it.
Yo! Pollsters! The reason Sanders is predicted to lose badly is because African Americans in that benighted state are telling your people that they favor Hillary Clinton by a margin variously calculated at 30-50%. Then you all put those numbers together with the fact that historically, 55% of the Democratic vote in South Carolina (where blacks represent 28 percent of the state population), are African American, and you say Bernie doesn't have a chance. Then you go on to say that is going to hurt Sanders in next week's Super Tuesday contests, which are all over the place, and on into the rest of the primaries.
But wait a minute. Why should Saturday's primary results matter? South Carolina is, along with Mississippi and Alabama, one of the most solidly Republican states in the country. It's not going to vote Democratic in November whoever wins the Democratic presidential primary.
Now if the black share of the vote in tomorrow's primary were representative of the sentiments of black voters all across the country -- urban, rural, southern, northern, eastern and western -- I could see why maybe there'd be some reason to pay attention, but that is not the case. Hardley.
What we have in South Carolina is a population of black people who have been exiled or marginalized from the state's political system since Reconstruction, or really since their ancestors were brought over in chains from Africa -- a population that despite constituting more than a quarter of the state's citizens has been living in what is effectively still an oppressive, crushing apartheid socio-political-econoomic system. That's a far cry from in the north or the far west, where concentrated African-American populations -- descendants of the great migration from the agrarian south -- have achieved plurality or even majority status in many cities, and have been able to take on, ameliorate or even overcome some of the oppressive conditions under which they and their forebears have lived. They've elected black mayors and black councilmembers, integrated police departments, and opened up hiring in municipal jobs, for example. They've even elected blacks to Congress, and in significant numbers. In places like that, who wins the presidency becomes less important an issue. But in a backward racist place like South Carolina, where it isn't even socially unacceptable for a white guy to admit he's in the Klan in some communities, it can seem crucial -- even a matter of survival.