What does the Latino vote look like in South Carolina?
For one, there are 118,000 eligible Latino voters in the state, according to Pew.
Like Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina is another primary state where a smaller percentage of voters are Latino.
In fact, a study released last June by the U.S. Census Bureau tracking aging populations across races, showed the Palmetto state as one of the few bucking the trend of population growth across the country.
The data found that while national population growth was spurred by Hispanic and Asian populations, South Carolina’s was thanks to increases in its non-Hispanic white population.
Across the country, non-Hispanic whites were the only population to decrease across the country, but grew by 60% in South Carolina. The next biggest jump was by the Hispanic population.
Despite the low numbers, out of a population of just under 300,000 people (for a little more than 5% of the total share), 118,000 Latinos are eligible to vote, according to a Pew study mapping the Latino electorate across the country for 2020.
While the capital, Charleston, has the largest population of Latinos, some of the biggest spots of growth for Latinos in South Carolina were along the coast in places like Horry and Beaufort counties — home to towns like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Juan Benitez, a restaurant-owner in Beaufort County, told a local NBC-affiliate that the Hispanic community there, much like everywhere else in the country, “respects someone who comes and handles their situation face-to-face.”
Benitez’s restaurant hosted a roundtable discussion between Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and residents.
The South Bend Mayor has struggled thus far to garner much support from minority voters. It didn’t show in majority-white states like Iowa and New Hampshire, but was a glaring issue in Nevada, which is just under 30% Latino.
South Carolina, while still majority white, also boasts a strong African-American population that makes up 27% of the state’s total population.
In many ways, the state’s Democratic primary is still a battle over who can win most between the black and white populations, but Latinos could play tiebreaker if the race is close.
Polls a week ago had former Vice President Joe Biden holding a minor lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, but have expanded his lead up to as much as 20 points a day before the primary.
Sanders’ campaign did well to micro-target the Latino communities in Iowa and New Hampshire and they helped him handily win Nevada. Don’t be surprised if they make it close in South Carolina.
Rounding out the top five in the polls behind Biden and Sanders are billionaire hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer in third by a little more than nine points, Buttigieg in fourth and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren in fifth.