Saturday, January 26, 2008

South Carolina Primary

Today South Carolina Democrats head to the polls to choose who they would like to see as our party's nominee for president.

South Carolina is not only the first primary election in a Southern state, it is also the first state that has a primary in which African-Americans voters will have a major say in who wins it. African-Americans are 30% of South Carolina's population and make up approximately 50% of Democratic primary voters.

That's why you have seen the fierce and at times contentious battle among Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama and former Sen. Edwards for those votes. South Carolina tends to set the tone for the rest of the African-Ameeican electorate and with Mega Tuesday looming two weeks from now, the three leading contenders are looking for a win here to build momentum heading into February 5. We saw those tensions flare up during the recent Congressional Black Caucus Foundation sponsored Democratic debate in Myrtle Beach.

Barack Obama has a ten point lead according to polls, but for this race and for the rest of the season, the polls will be useless. As a matter of fact, anytime I hear Barack's poll numbers, I automatically subtract ten points from whatever numbers I hear to get a more accurate snapshot of the electorate. As I mentined in an earlier post, because of the residue of our negative race relations in the States, there's 10 percent of the White electorate that will not vote for a Black candidate no matter how qualified he or she may be.

Then there's the factor of Whites who don't want to appear racist and have a camera or a mic stuck in their face. If they are interviewed, they'll say they're voting for Obama, for example, but their voting booth choices reflect otherwise.

Conversely, African-American voters are not trying to look like we're just automatically voting for the brother, either. We're saying to pollsters and those same reporters we're undecided, we're looking for the best candidate, but when we get in the voting booth we go in the other direction.

We see a historic opportunity that may not come again for a while. A lot of us ar lamenting the fact that we have a chance for two historic outcomes in also having the first female president and are torn by it.

Which way will South Carolina go? We'll find out in a few hours.

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