Charleston, SC — The Democrats' first 2024 presidential primary was straightforward. South Carolina helped President Joe Biden win the Democratic nomination four years ago and easily defeated little opposition on Saturday.
The depth of Black voter support was at issue for Biden. They were half the party's 2020 primary electorate in the state and handed him a landslide victory, which he rewarded by elevating South Carolina to the top of the party's nomination process. According to AP VoteCast, 91% of Black voters supported Biden in the general election.
Whether he gets similar backing this year affects more than South Carolina. Black voters' support for Biden has declined since he formed his winning alliance four years ago. The latest Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey shows his Black adult approval rating at 42%, down from his first year in office.
That might be concerning as he prepares for a rematch with former President Donald Trump, the Republican nomination frontrunner. Black primary attendance in South Carolina may indicate a wider decline in excitement. Biden must inspire Black voters in battleground states Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
His campaign didn't ignore the state. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been visiting Black communities before the primary and pledge to continue pushing for them.
South Carolina Democratic-leaning Black voters interviewed before Saturday's primary supported the president, from early voting centers in Columbia, the state capital, to a historically Black college in Orangeburg to a voter-mobilization event in Charleston. But they also showed caution signs: Voters want Biden to outline his goals for a second term and are concerned about his age, inflation, and economy.
Younger Black Americans want Biden to focus their issues if he runs again. South Carolina State University sophomore Alexandrea B. Moore, 22, said Biden might have been more upfront about his struggles to fulfill his promise of broad student loan forgiveness, which the Supreme Court threw down.
"If Biden wants to regain the trust of U.S. citizens, then there needs to be a little bit of transparency on why things didn't go as promised," she added. Olivia Ratliff, a 19-year-old sophomore at the state's sole public historically Black college or university, wants Biden to address school safety and the teacher shortage.
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