Biden leads among African Americans but Warren has gained ground with ambitious policy plans and hours-long selfie lines
Linda Edwards is the family authority on all matters of politics. Every election year,she watches the news, studies the candidates, attends campaign events and renders a verdict.
A year before the 2020 election, the 68-year-old retired pharmacist from Charlotte has her work cut out: 19 Democrats vying to be the Democratic presidential nominee. Yet with five months left before voting begins in the primary race, Edwards says she is ready to make an endorsement.
Elizabeth Warren is the absolute greatest, Edwards said of the Massachusetts senator after waiting for more than an hour to take a selfie with her at a recent campaign event in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I always had her at the top of the list but she is the No 1 now. I totally support her.
Since entering the race nine months ago, Warren has steadily gained ground with ambitious policy proposals, a decision to swear-off high-dollar fundraising events and her hours-long selfie lines. But if she is to win the nomination, it will likely be with the help of African American voters such as Edwards, part of an increasingly powerful and decisive constituency in the Democratic party.
A spate of recent polls show Warren edging past Joe Biden in the first two early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, home to predominantly white electorates. But in South Carolina, where African American voters make up an estimated 60% of Democratic primary voters, Biden still enjoys a wide lead.
In South Carolina, known as the Palmetto State, which holds the first in the south primary on 29 February next year, Biden leads Warren by 21 points, according to a CNN poll released this week. Although they draw the same share of support from white primary voters in the state, 45% of black Democrats back Biden compared to just 4% who favor Warren.
I dont know how anyone can become the Democratic nominee or the next president of the United States, for that matter without strong, across-the-board support from African American voters, said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist in South Carolina, who is not aligned with a candidate. South Carolina is the first test of that support.
The event at Clinton College in Rock Hill on Saturday highlighted the challenge for Warren as she works to introduce herself to African Americans in the state.
Despite the unbearable heat and humidity, nearly 1,400 attended her outdoor rally, and hundreds stayed afterward for selfies. Yet the crowd that blanketed the campus of this historically black college was overwhelmingly white.