Bernie Sanders urges South Carolina to 'make history' - but faces a mammoth task beating Hillary Clinton

He and his campaign know it would indeed be remarkable to hold off Clinton on Saturday

Buoyed by his biggest rally yet in South Carolina – 5,000 people – and an effusive introduction from the actor Danny Glover, Senator Bernie Sanders declared that the state, which holds its Democratic Primary on Saturday, “has the opportunity to make history”. He added: “I hope you will.”

He and his campaign know, however, that it would indeed be remarkable to hold off Hillary Clinton. Her confidence of winning South Carolina by a country mile derives from one demographic reality: almost half the Democrat voters will be black or Hispanic. She easily won the black vote last Saturday in Nevada and there is nothing to suppose she will not in this state.

“Much like the margin that Bernie Sanders had going into New Hampshire was hard to whittle away at, so the margin she has here is pretty substantial,” commented Brady Quirk-Garvan, chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party.

But because delegates are awarded on a proportional  rather than winner-takes-all, basis. Mr Sanders will still work hard in South Carolina to win as many votes as he can. Some factors may help him. Notably the African American and Hispanic share of the voter pool is actually lower than eight years ago when Barack Obama took South Carolina, in part because of a white influx from the north-eastern US.

That influx, Mr Quirk-Garvan noted, has been especially marked in the coastal areas, with retirees coming and also workers for newly arrived corporations such as Boeing. “The question is are these people more familiar with Bernie Sanders and will there be enough of them to offset Hillary Clinton’s lead?” he added.

While Mr Sanders must also plumb for support in the 12 states voting in a week on Super Tuesday – he is campaigning in Virginia today – he has deployed black surrogates across South Carolina to try to peel younger blacks in particular from Camp Clinton.  Thus Glover was to be found last night in Fish, a popular Charleston restaurant.

But one image lingered from his packed rally in Greenville; among the sea of excited faces, only a very few were black.

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