Voters in South Carolina will take to the polls on Saturday, deciding who they think will be the strongest contender to beat President Trump. South Carolina has 54 delegates to award — the largest of the early voting states ahead of Super Tuesday — making it a major deciding factor in who will be the Democratic nominee.
A key force in the South Carolina primary are Black voters, who make up about 55% of the Democratic party in the state. In particular, 2020’s most powerful emerging force in this election are Black women: a demographic group that is taking control over the race, Black women are expected to have one of the highest voter turnouts in this state. Now, every candidate is vying for support in the final hour, making their case for who understands the concerns of Black women, and who can best address them.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 55% of Black women in the U.S. who are registered to vote proceeded to cast ballots in the 2018 midterm election. That is six percentage points higher than the national average of all registered voters, and a number that is anticipated to grow in the 2020 election — especially in states like South Carolina. Black women also drive candidates to demonstrate commitment to issues important to them, such as equal pay and maternal mortality, which have been discussed during many of the Democratic debates.
Aimee Allison, the founder and president of She the People, a group seeking to ensure black women are part of the national political conversation, said candidates won’t be successful if they haven’t established relationships with Black women.
“If you want to know what the possibilities for this country are beyond Trump, then listen to black women, who are extraordinarily engaged, who are following politics, who are the most likely to vote and bring our communities forward, and to support a broad-based justice agenda,” Allison told Fortune.
At a shrimp-and-grits gathering Sunday in South Carolina, local residents told the Washington Post that they were voting for their second choice after Sen. Kamala Harris dropped out of the 2020 race in December. Kim Greene, 56, told the Post she was going to vote for Harris, but now will be voting for former Vice President Joe Biden.
“We need someone that represents us and Trump does not,” Greene said. “Who will America vote for in a general election?”
Right now, Biden is winning among Black women in the Palmetto State despite slipping in national polls. During Monday night’s debate, Biden declared that he would not only win South Carolina, but that he would put a Black woman on the Supreme Court when he wins the presidency.
“I’m looking forward to making sure there's a Black woman on the Supreme Court, to make sure we, in fact, get every representation,” he said. “I intend to win South Carolina and I will win the African American vote here in South Carolina,” he added.