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?

The devastating effects of climate change are already affecting communities around the world. However, marginalized communities suffering from poverty or living in rural regions are particularly in danger. In his plan to build a sustainable economy that transitions away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, Andrew is committed to being proactive in helping these communities both transition to safer and cheaper sources of energy, while also providing assistance to coastal communities in improving their infrastructure to withstand the impact of climate change or relocate structures or people when necessary.

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

Andrew believes that we need to rewrite the rules of our country so that they work equally for all. His Criminal Justice Reform plan ends the use of private prisons, cash bail, and mandatory minimums, and works with law enforcement to change practices that result in inequitable enforcement. He would fight for voting rights, and he’d ensure a diverse and representative Administration at all levels. His Freedom Dividend would provide communities that have lacked access to capital the resources to invest in themselves, and he would invest heavily in the public education system and in HBCUs. Finally, he supports HR40.

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

Andrew Yang is the only candidate fighting for universal basic income — a concept embraced by Martin Luther King, Jr. The Freedom Dividend will add nearly $45B per year to South Carolina’s economy, distributed throughout the entire state. The additional income would not only help the 15.4 percent of South Carolinians living in poverty but support the economic growth of our state and local economy while improving the overall quality of life in communities across the state.

In addition to the Freedom Dividend, Yang’s insight and understanding of automation-related job loss is crucial in a state that relies heavily on manufacturing.

According to the experts …

Andrew Yang is a different kind of political candidate. He has not held political office, is not highly partisan, and has proposed a number of entrepreneurial policy ideas. He even dresses differently than other politicians. Yang often shows up at campaign rallies sans tie, sporting a “MATH” lapel pin, and proudly telling the crowd that “MATH” means “Make America Think Harder.”

One of the bright spots for the Yang campaign is how well young people, a portion of the electorate that is often turned off by politics, are responding to his candidacy. According to a recent Morning Consult weekly tracking poll, 74 percent of Yang supporters are between the ages of 18 and 44. As a point of comparison, the polling leader in South Carolina, Joe Biden, only draws 29 percent of his support from this age group. These same data show that Yang polls very well among male voters and Asian-American voters.

Another positive feature of the Yang campaign is his innovative approach to public policy. Throughout the campaign, Yang has introduced creative ideas for addressing some of our country’s most pressing problems. The most well-known is his “Freedom Dividend” proposal, an initiative that would provide $1,000 a month in universal basic income to every adult in the United States.

Despite his loyal following, known as the “Yang Gang,” he is unlikely to win the South Carolina primary. According to recent polling, Yang is supported by about 2 percent of the state’s Democratic primary voters.

One challenge for Yang is his lack of political endorsements. In our book about the South Carolina primary, First in the South: Why South Carolina’s Presidential Primary Matters, we discovered the importance of endorsements from key political figures in the Palmetto State. These endorsements are a key part of the “invisible primary,” and signal a candidate’s viability and broader base of support.

Perhaps most importantly, there is little evidence that Yang’s message is resonating with African-American voters. Based on a recent national poll of black Democrats, Yang was the preferred candidate for only 3 percent of respondents. This lack of support among African-American voters makes winning the South Carolina primary virtually impossible. As we discuss in our book, black voters make up over 60 percent of the state’s primary electorate.

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).