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?

Bernie’s Green New Deal will invest $16.3 trillion over 10 years to meet the targets the scientists tell us are necessary to avert climate disaster. He’ll ensure justice for frontline communities — especially under-resourced rural and coastal communities, communities of color, Native Americans, people with disabilities, children, and seniors — to recover from and prepare for climate impacts, including creating a $40 billion Climate Justice Resiliency Fund. We’ll provide targeted regional economic development to communities especially in need of assistance during our transition to a clean energy economy, including $130 billion for counties disproportionately impacted by climate change.


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

Bernie believes it is long past time we treat structural racism with the urgency it deserves. In order to transform this country into a nation that affirms the value of its people of color, we must address the five central types of violence waged against black, brown and indigenous Americans: physical, political, legal, economic, and environmental.

Whether it is a broken criminal justice system, or massive disparities in the availability of financial services, or health disparities, or environmental disparities, or educational disparities, we must create a nation in which all people are treated equally.

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

Bernie’s campaign is not just to win the Democratic primary, and not just to defeat Donald Trump; although we must, and we will. It is to bring fundamental political change to America.

A Bernie Sanders presidency will be based on economic, social, racial and environmental justice. Together, we stand up to the powerful special interests, corporation and the billionaire class who control our economic and political life. At the end of the day, the one percent may have enormous wealth and power, but they are just the one percent. When the 99 percent stand together, we can transform society.

According to the experts …

Hillary Clinton routed Bernie Sanders in the 2016 South Carolina Democratic primary. Clinton’s path to victory included securing the bulk of statewide endorsements, dominating pre-election media coverage, and winning the support of the state’s African American voters.

Will Sanders experience the same fate in 2020?

As in 2016, Sanders had a strong showing in Iowa and appears poised to do well in the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11. However, as we argue in our newly published book on the “First in the South” primary, South Carolina has a very different Democratic electorate than these two early states. South Carolina’s Democratic primary voters are more racially diverse, more conservative, and less likely to have a college degree.

Sanders’ supporters tend to be more educated, liberal, and white according to most polling.

An additional hurdle is that Sanders’ main challenger in the state — former Vice President Joe Biden — leads in the endorsement race, critical to success in the S.C. primary.

In addition to awarding 63 delegates, South Carolina is important because it is a barometer for other Southern states that hold contests in quick succession. On March 3, just three days after the S.C. primary, elections will be held in six Southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

A candidate who does well in South Carolina can quickly amass a sizable delegate advantage given the front-loaded nature of contests in the region. In 2016, Hillary Clinton followed her South Carolina victory by winning all six of the Southern states listed above.

Sanders does have a path to victory, however. Recent polling shows Sanders improving his standing, and a strong performance here could aid him in subsequent states and keep him viable. It is also important to keep in mind that a key difference between 2016 and 2020 is the size of the Democratic field. Clinton and Sanders were the only two viable candidates in 2016, but there is a much more crowded field in 2020. The larger field is an advantage for Sanders, a candidate with a loyal following and solid base of support.

We will know in a few weeks if 2020 resembles 2016. Whatever the outcome, South Carolina will continue to play a critical role in the race for the White House.

Jordan Ragusa and Gibbs Knotts are political science professors at the CofC. They recently published First in the South: Why South Carolina’s Presidential Primary Matters.