In South Carolina, Young Black Voters Could Put Holes In Clinton's Firewall Most polls show Hillary Clinton beating Bernie Sanders soundly in the state's upcoming primary, due to overwhelming black support. But many young black voters are turning lukewarm on Clinton.
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In South Carolina, Young Black Voters Could Put Holes In Clinton's Firewall

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In South Carolina, Young Black Voters Could Put Holes In Clinton's Firewall

In South Carolina, Young Black Voters Could Put Holes In Clinton's Firewall

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's turn now to the presidential campaign and South Carolina, where a lot could change for Bernie Sanders, who drew big support from young voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. Here's NPR's Sam Sanders.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Hey, y'all.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Hi, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Where do you want to sit?

SANDERS: That's me at a primary watch party with the University of South Carolina College Democrats. Quick snap poll, who's for Hillary? Who's for Bernie? Who's for... Even after Bernie Sanders' clear victory in New Hampshire, there was a fairly even split there between Sanders and Clinton supporters. But then there was Matthew Cauthen. And so you are currently undecided?

MATTHEW CAUTHEN: Yes.

SANDERS: Why? Cauthen, who is black, told me at first that he hadn't made up his mind. But then, he told me this.

CAUTHEN: I know who I'll vote for on the election night, probably.

SANDERS: Who you'll vote for in the primary?

CAUTHEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: Cauthen said he likes Clinton and her policies. He thinks she can get things done. He's even volunteered for Clinton. But he thinks on some key issues, she's had more than one position.

CAUTHEN: And I think she would be a good president. I have some reservations about some of the things she's done in the past. But ultimately, I think she'll be a good president.

SANDERS: If you think you heard some ambivalence there, you did. And he wasn't the only one.

JESSICA TOLBERT: I'm probably going to vote for Hillary.

SANDERS: I met Jessica Tolbert at a Clinton rally at Claflin University, a historically black college. And the more we talked, the more she wavered.

TOLBERT: Consistency is key for me, and I think on certain issues I hear her say one thing, and then I remember her saying something else.

SANDERS: She couldn't really go into specifics, but before we were done, Tolbert said this.

TOLBERT: If I could vote today, maybe it would go to Bernie. I don't know. Maybe he's a fresh face. We've seen Hillary.

SANDERS: Another young black voter with doubts about Hillary Clinton when Clinton consistently leads in polls with black voters. What's that about?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: So, are you guys excited for our guest speaker, Academy and Emmy-award nominated actress and film director, Miss Angela Bassett?

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Miss Angela Bassett was at South Carolina State, another black college, to campaign for Hillary Clinton. But in the Q and A, she got several tough questions.

TAYLOR HONORE: I did my background research on what Hillary has really done for the black community, and it kind of concerned me.

SANDERS: That Taylor Honore. She's a student at S.C. State.

HONORE: There're tough-on-crime politics that were enforced when Bill Clinton was in office.

SANDERS: She asked Bassett about Clinton's 1994 crime bill. She says it sent a lot of black men to prison. Just after that, another student asked about Bill Clinton's welfare reform and the harm that it caused to black families. There was a theme here. A lot of their ambivalence towards Hillary Clinton was a reaction to her husband's policies. But do these students represent all black voters in South Carolina?

JAIME HARRISON: It's very different from what I see, you know, in the churches and in barber shops with the older generations of African-Americans.

SANDERS: Jaime Harrison is state chair of the state Democratic party. He says Clinton still has strong support with black voters overall in the state, especially older black voters, and it might be hard to change their minds. But Harrison says there may be a way.

HARRISON: Now, what he could do - and this is something that Barack Obama was very effective in doing - was mobilizing his young people to convince their parents and to convince their grandparents to support him.

SANDERS: And maybe that's the big question in South Carolina and around the country - how well can Bernie Sanders channel Barack Obama? Sam Sanders, NPR News, Columbia, S.C.

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