Scott has said little on the racial controversies and civil rights issues of the last four years, from the killings of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis to the death of Michael Brown and the explosion of anger and rage in Ferguson, Mo. It’s possible these omissions have harmed him with Black South Carolinians, who might agree with him on an issue like education, but aren’t sure that he’ll represent their particular interests as Black Americans.

But while this silence might hurt Scott with Blacks, there’s a good chance it helps him with Whites. It’s rare for Black politicians to win statewide office, and it’s obviously rarer for them to win seats to the U.S. Senate; since Emancipation, only five Blacks (including Scott) have been elected to the upper chamber of Congress.