By Alexander Bolton - 09/17/15 08:01 PM EDT
Sanders’s plan to punch through Clinton’s Southern firewall
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Next steps after Trump upheaval Bernie fights for relevance Sanders shares star power with NY House hopeful MORE (I-Vt.) plans to pour resources into South Carolina to improve his standing with black voters in the state to punch a hole in Hillary Clinton’s electoral firewall.
Sanders is polling well in Iowa and New Hampshire, the states hosting the first two contests of the 2016 presidential primary, but political analysts wonder how well he can do in other states, especially those in the South, where Clinton and her husband have strong relationships with black leaders.
A Public Policy Polling survey from earlier this month showed Clinton leading Sanders 54 percent to 9 percent.
She trounced him among African-American Democrats, 59 percent to 3 percent. Sanders had only a 32-percent favorable rating among African-Americans.
Sanders plans to boost his numbers by financing a major grassroots campaign introducing himself to minority voters in the state.
“We’re hiring half the state of South Carolina. Unemployment will go down,” quipped a campaign official. “We’re going to mount a very strong grassroots campaign and have young African-Americans knocking on doors in African-American communities.”
If the experiment proves successful in South Carolina, the campaign will next target Georgia, which has a relatively young and educated black electorate.
The Sanders campaign points to survey data showing their candidate fairing better among black voters in California and believe his traction in that state is more representative of his potential appeal in minority communities.
Sanders made his second visit as a candidate this past weekend to South Carolina, host of the first Southern primary, where he campaigned with prominent black scholar Cornel West.
“I think that we’re going to be in for some surprises in the black community in South Carolina,” West told USA Today.
The New York Times reported earlier this month that Clinton’s campaign hopes to build a firewall across the South by committing campaign staff and resources to South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
South Carolina holds its primary Feb. 27. The rest of those states host theirs March 1.