One day Joe Biden can still hope. For the former Vice President of the United States, the battle for the Democratic presidential candidacy was not good at last: he lost in the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, came second in Nevada, but was still 26 percentage points behind Bernie Sanders. The self-proclaimed revolutionary from Vermont, who was defeated by Hillary Clinton in 2016, is increasingly becoming a favorite. But will that still be Sanders after the area code in South Carolina? Or is Biden beating him for the first time?
This Saturday, above all, a group of voters will decide: African-Americans. In 2016, more than half of South Carolina's democratic voters were black, and it stands to reason that their number could increase significantly this year. Because many who did not vote last time could vote this time to prevent Donald Trump from serving again. And that in turn could motivate many others.
So the area code in South Carolina has strong symbolic meaning, and not just because it coincides with the last day of annual Black History Month . Whoever wins here sets an example for the further course of the election campaign. Gathering the African-American electorate behind is more important than ever because of the anti-Trump impulse to be nominated as a Democratic presidential candidate. Conversely, this means that those who lose in South Carolina will have a hard time in the coming weeks. For some, losing here could even end the candidacy. Because the area code is an important test just before Super Tuesday on March 3, when 15 states and members of the Democratic Party living abroad choose their favorites.
This sunny Friday is therefore the final sprint in South Carolina's capital Columbia. In a small park in the middle of the city with 133,000 inhabitants, young families and students from the nearby university come together and wave cardboard signs that read "Bernie 2020". Music from Tracy Chapman and Janelle Monaé booms out of the speakers, the event is opened by the hip-hop duo Blackillac: " Bernie 2020, Donald Trump is going down ". And when Bernie Sanders finally takes the stage, he is only announced by African-American speakers. The message is very clear: we want your voices.
"Until he listens to us"
And Bernie Sanders needs it, if not as badly as Joe Biden, whose finances are threatening to run dry and for whom, in the event of a defeat, could be over here. If Sanders wants to continue on his successful course, he has to do better in South Carolina than in 2016. At that time he won only 26 percent of the vote, while Hillary Clinton was 73 percent ahead. In his speech, Sanders now unwinds the usual program: criticism of capitalism, healthcare for all, Trump's lies. Only once in between is it specifically about racism and equal opportunities in a longer context. The crowd whistles approvingly, but it mostly consists of people who already support him.
At the back are a few people with skeptical expressions and crossed arms. They call themselves "Powerful Parent Network" and have traveled from all over the country. Not to listen, but to talk to the candidate yourself - less about concepts of socialism than about acute needs that need to be addressed. Sarah Carpenter, a spokeswoman for the group, explains about America's failing schools, the lack of opportunities for advancement and the injustices of the US education system, from which they once suffered just as much as their children do now. So far, Sanders says they haven't received a call, but they didn't want to leave without: "If I have to, I'll wait here all night until he listens to us."