Until the S.C. Democratic Party primary on Sat. Feb. 29, we will publish candidate responses to three questions on issues facing local voters along with a brief analysis of each from two CofC professors. For more, visit

1. What would you do now and in the future to address climate change’s impact, particularly for poor and rural residents of coastal communities?

Sen. Klobuchar will introduce sweeping legislation to combat the climate crisis that includes a massive investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate-resilient infrastructure, climate research and innovation, rural energy development, and better, greener transportation. She is deeply committed to leaving no one behind through investments in climate adaptation and support for frontline communities. As President, she will make sure vulnerable communities are a key part of decision making, increase federal funding to invest in infrastructure and jobs in communities that are most directly experiencing the effects of climate change, and strengthen environmental justice programs at the EPA.

2. How would you deal with enduring, stark racial inequalities in places like South Carolina?

Sen. Klobuchar believes we must beat back decades of systemic racism, discrimination, and inequality. That begins by focusing on economic justice and opportunity, which means investing in underserved areas, providing early-childcare, fixing inequalities in our education system, addressing racism in health care such as disparities in maternal and infant mortality rates, overhauling our country’s housing policies by totally eliminating the Section 8 backlog and ending housing discrimination, and tackling racial disparities in wages and in retirement savings. Sen. Klobuchar is also committed to cutting child poverty in half within a decade and ending it within a generation.

3. Why should South Carolina voters support you Feb. 29?

Sen. Klobuchar is running for President to bring people together, take on the challenges facing our country, and to get things done. In the Senate, she has passed more than 100 bills as the lead Democrat on issues like infrastructure, election security, and preventing shortages of life-saving medications. And she has a track record of winning big. She has won every race, every place, every time — including places President Trump won by more than 20 points — and she will get our country back on the path of progress with an ambitious, optimistic economic agenda for our country.

According to the experts …

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s campaign is based on a simple strategy: do well in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses and carry that momentum into New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Unfortunately for Klobuchar, this strategy, sensible as it may be, does not appear to be working.

Although research has shown that momentum can indeed play an important role in nomination contests, in our recently published book on the South Carolina presidential primary we discovered that a strong performance in Iowa has a weak relationship with a candidate’s performance South Carolina. For example, in 2004, then-Sen. John Kerry won the Iowa caucuses but lost to N.C. Sen. John Edwards by over 15 percent in South Carolina.

No doubt the reason for the weak relationship between the Hawkeye and Palmetto states is their vastly different Democratic nominating electorates. One of the key differences is that South Carolina Democrats are more conservative than Democrats in Iowa.

Given the state’s greater conservatism, one might expect Klobuchar to do well in South Carolina. She is a bona fide moderate, having won three statewide elections in Minnesota, and has spoken out about the dangers of the growing national debt. However, her message has not resonated in South Carolina. According to the Real Clear Politics polling average, she only has support from 1.3 percent of likely voters in the Palmetto State.

Another key finding in our book is the importance of endorsements in the South Carolina primary. We found that key endorsements from South Carolina political leaders carry considerable weight with the state’s primary voters. In this area, Klobuchar is also well behind her chief rivals. Joe Biden continues to be the polling leader in South Carolina and also has the most endorsements, including support from state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, state Rep. Marvin Pendarvis, and longtime Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.

All in all, Amy Klobuchar needs a quick turnaround to have a chance in South Carolina’s “First in the South” primary.

Jordan Ragusa and Gibbs Knotts are political science professors at the College of Charleston. They recently published First in the South: Why South Carolina’s Presidential Primary Matters (USC Press, 2019).

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