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While African-Americans in South Carolina’s cities are facing similar challenges as in other urban areas, the winning candidate here may prove to be the one who can make the best case to rural black voters.
“When you’re in the rural parts, you know the parts with one traffic light, that’s where the crisis is,” said Danielle Richardson, a 44-year-old from Charleston. “They’ve lost resources and we need a president who goes there and knows that.”
In Bamberg, a town of 3,500, black voters said they wanted a nominee who could both defeat Mr. Trump and speak to their racial and economic concerns.
Located in the state’s “corridor of shame,” a reference to the abysmal school conditions in the region, Bamberg lacks a grocery store and residents are most concerned about fundamental quality-of-life issues like access to health care, clean drinking water and the internet. Many are not yet focusing on the 2020 presidential race, but in interviews outside a dollar store voters said their hopes are limited.
Brady Jackson, 46, said South Carolina is “so far behind” it often feels impossible to catch up. “It feels like nothing is getting better, it’s all at a standstill,” he said.
Helen Steedler, 79, said she is keeping an eye on Mr. Booker and Ms. Harris but she also floated the prospect of a Biden-Harris ticket.
In North Charleston, though, there was little appetite for a Biden candidacy among a group of younger black voters who were gathered in a restaurant. His politics are too moderate, they said, and his comments about forging policy with segregationist senators prompted a round of disbelieving headshakes. But they were not yet sold on either of the two black candidates, either.