Younger African American voters are more open than their older counterparts to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I., Vt) presidential campaign, indicating that Hillary Clinton could face problems in states like South Carolina if millennials turn out in large numbers to support her challenger.
African Americans support former Secretary of State Clinton by more than a 3-to-1 margin nationwide, but among young blacks 18 to 29 years old, that margin shrinks to 46 percent for Clinton versus 33 percent for Sanders, according to recent Reuters/Ipsos polling. African Americans overwhelmingly back Democrats, but opinion polls in the run-up to the Nov. 8 presidential election show younger blacks more apt to reject an establishment candidate. They seem less inclined than their parents to reward Clinton for the outreach of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and more drawn to Sanders’ outspoken views on reducing income inequality, cracking down on Wall Street, and cutting the cost of college.
Sanders garnered considerable support from younger voters in both the Iowa Democratic caucus and the New Hampshire primary. The Vermont senator beat Clinton by 22 percentage points in New Hampshire on Tuesday, receiving support from 84 percent of Democratic voters under the age of 30 in the state.
Clinton’s campaign has expressed confidence that she will beat Sanders in states more diverse than Iowa and New Hampshire, both of which are more than 90 percent white.
"Whereas the electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire are largely rural/suburban and predominantly white, the March states better reflect the true diversity of the Democratic Party and the nation," Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook wrote in a memo conceding the New Hampshire primary race to Sanders.
However, young black voters’ openness to Sanders’ candidacy could help him win more votes in states like South Carolina, where approximately 67 percent of the population is white and 27 percent black, according to the Census Bureau.
Several black college-aged voters in South Carolina recently approached by NPR indicated that their support for Clinton was wavering. At a results watch party hosted by the University of South Carolina College Democrats on Tuesday, young voters were essentially divided between those supporting Clinton and those backing Sanders.
Before the Democratic primary in South Carolina, both candidates will go head-to-head in the Nevada Democratic caucus. According to polling released by the Washington Free Beacon Friday, Clinton and Sanders are tied among likely caucusgoers in the state.