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Democrats focus on winning Black vote in South Carolina

Democrats are worried about earning the Black vote for the 2024 election in South Carolina. So how is one local resident helping?
Democrats focus on winning Black vote in South Carolina
Posted at 6:38 PM, Jun 09, 2023

Hopkins, South Carolina usually isn’t the first place presidential candidates go when campaigning, but it’s not ignored either — thanks to Margaret Sumpter. 

The 65-year-old has been voting since she was 18. And she’s used decades of political activism to draw big name politicians to her rural town — about 120 miles north of Charleston. 

Two-and-a-half years into President Joe Biden’s term, she’s still with him.

SCRIPPS NEWS' AVA-JOYE BURNETT: Will you support him in 2024?

MARGARET SUMPTER: I will support in 2024. 

South Carolina is playing a major role in the 2024 general election cycle. Two of the major Republican candidates served in the Hopkins State House. And on the other side, the Democrats rallied to move up their first primary in the nation to the Palmetto State. That move was a nod to voters in Hopkins, especially African Americans who helped to revive then-candidate Joe Biden’s struggling 2020 campaign.

President Joe Biden still has strong support among Black voters like Sumpter. But some cracks are starting to show with other Black voters, who now have doubts.

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A recent Associated Press NORC poll found the president has a 58% approval rating among Black voters — well below the roughly 90% he enjoyed during the first months of his presidency. The fear among some Democrats is that could translate to lower turnout among Black voters in key battleground states like Georgia and Wisconsin.

Christale Spain, the new chair of South Carolina's Democratic Party, admits more work needs to be done to reach and keep Black voters. 

"The Bipartisan Infrastructure bill that passed ... is showing up here in South Carolina. The last three years have been pretty historic, but we haven't told them. We have not told the message of the accomplishments of Democrats," Spain said. 

Todd Shaw, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina, said most African Americans voters will stick with the Democrats, but their vote should not be taken for granted.

"It comes from a history of Black voters making a choice that all Americans have to make. There are two major political parties, and given that there are only two major political parties, which of those two parties come closest to your own policy preferences," Shaw said. 

Back in Hopkins, Sumpter is taking on a new leadership role in the state party, as she continues to try to convince Democrats who may be looking elsewhere.

"I've had somebody tell me I'm going to go to the other party. But I guarantee you when you go, you want to come back because it's not as green as you think it is over there," Sumpter said. 

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