In her fourth visit to South Carolina this year, Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the state’s significance as the first primary in the nation during a get-out-the-vote rally at South Carolina State University.
With a stage marked “First in the Nation,” Harris, accompanied by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, acknowledged the state’s influential position in the Democratic primary process.
Although President Joe Biden is expected to easily secure victory in the primary, facing nominal challenges from Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and self-help author Marianne Williamson, the Biden campaign has invested over $400,000 in ads and deployed high-profile surrogates to demonstrate their commitment to Black voters.
The primary is viewed as an opportunity to showcase prioritization of Black voter support, particularly as recent polls indicate Biden underperforming with this crucial demographic compared to his 2020 results.
During her speech, Harris highlighted policy achievements, such as student loan debt cancellation, reduced insulin costs, and increased federal funding for historically Black colleges and universities.
She also addressed the threat posed by former President Donald Trump to democracy and freedoms, underscoring the importance of the person in the White House.
Despite the primary’s lack of competitiveness, questions persist about Biden’s appeal to young Black voters, a demographic expressing discontent with the president in public polling. State legislators in South Carolina note that Biden’s challenge lies in effectively communicating his agenda to voters.
State Rep. Marvin Pendarvis stressed the need for a clear and digestible message to convey policy accomplishments, acknowledging the frustration that the message hasn’t fully resonated. He recognized the ongoing effort to improve messaging and the significant campaign presence in South Carolina to address this challenge.
While Biden is expected to secure a strong majority in the primary, the level of voter turnout may not match previous years’ open and contested primaries.
Clyburn anticipates a turnout of around 65 percent for Biden in this less competitive primary, which may not fully address concerns about the president’s standing with young Black voters.
Interviews with state legislators reveal that the focus is not on the president’s agenda but on effectively communicating it to the electorate. Pendarvis highlighted the messaging challenge, emphasizing the need for better communication to break through and recognizing the ongoing efforts to improve the situation in South Carolina.