Let’s talk about a tale of two Americas. The exit polls from this Saturday’s Democratic primary and the GOP’s primary from last week tell an interesting story. The GOP primary electorate in South Carolina was over 90 percent White and the Democratic electorate in the same state was over 65 percent Black.
Although two very different constituencies showed up at the polls on two different Saturdays, collectively they represent what we can likely expect on “Super Tuesday” this coming week. Super Tuesday is the biggest day of the 2016 primary season with 13 states and one territory participating at the polls simultaneously. It is also the moment of reckoning for both parties to come to terms with who they will officially support in the election.
In the midst of all the banter, it’s important to remain focused on what is at stake here for African Americans in this fight for the presidency. The Black vote saved Hillary Clinton’s candidacy this past Saturday in South Carolina and propelled her closer to the Democratic nomination. Clinton walloped Bernie Sanders with over 73 percent of the overall vote and she beat him handily in the Black community. But we’re all savvy enough to understand that politics is a give and take game. What will the Black leaders who delivered for Clinton expect and demand should she win the nomination and ultimately the presidency?
Here’s a breakdown of the numbers based on a series of exit polls for both primaries in South Carolina by major news outlets including ABCPolitics, NBC, CNN, Marist Polls and The Wall Street Journal:
- 8 in 10 Black voters supported Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
- The voter intensity for Clinton was high, with Black voter enthusiasm at 87 percent for Clinton in 2016 as opposed to 78 percent for then Senator Barack Obama in 2008.
- Clinton lost the White male vote to Sanders, but won the women’s vote (with Black women being most intensely supportive of her).
- 82 percent of voters in the South Carolina Democratic primary valued “experience” in their candidate. Whereas over 60 percent of GOP primary voters who supported Donald Trump wanted an “outsider” who can bring about “change” to the country.
- Donald Trump won evangelical voters and a majority of women voters in the Republican primary. He also won a majority of voters with less than two years of college education as well as those with only a high school diploma.
- Clinton won the majority of South Carolinian female voters in the Democratic primary over Sanders as well as those voters who are over 25.
- Clinton still has issues with the “honesty factor,” losing in that category to Sanders by 9 points.
- The GOP base appears to be more highly motivated coming through with a record turnout in South Carolina this year versus the Democratic voter turnout, which was lower than expected.
Trump has emerged as the clear GOP front runner and he has stoked a raging fire in disaffected White voters who agree with his anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, anti-Black rhetoric. Trump may be unstoppable as he is expected to win the majority of states on Super Tuesday.
Even more bizarre, Trump garnered an endorsement from former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and has so far has refused to disavow Duke until he gets more facts, saying, “I don’t know anything about David Duke.” Trump’s apparent lock on the GOP nomination has caused fear and shock throughout the Republican party, in many Americans households and even internationally, across the globe. Yet, Trump bested his GOP rivals Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio by almost 11 points in last week’s GOP primary contest, causing them both to rev up their political attack machines and in some ways, even stoop down to Trump’s well known, sophomoric level.
This snapshot tells us what we can expect if both Trump and Clinton are the nominees for President. This contest will suddenly be between two immense personalities, known throughout the world, who are fierce competitors and not at all intimidated by the other enough to stop saying exactly what’s on their minds, but with that said, they also both have very significant “negatives” in all of the national polls. It will be a tough election and likely a very bitter one, leaving, we the people, to choose between the lesser of two evils.
The choice for African American voters, however, seems to be clear, particularly if the presumed GOP nominee continues down his current path of divisive, race-baiting, name calling against Mexicans, Muslims, and other disparaged groups. This election is Hillary Clinton’s to lose once she secures the Democratic nomination. While we have shown how significant and formidable the Black vote is at the polls, it is also time for us to call in what’s owed, demand impactful changes in our communities and mandate we receive the same opportunities that are promised to all Americans.
Sophia A. Nelson is an award winning journalist and author. She is working on her next book, EPlurisbusOne: Rediscovering America’s Lost Political Code, due out next January. Follow her on Twitter @IAmSophiaNelson.