Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is gaining in popularity in early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, but South Carolina may prove more challenging.
Sanders will need to win in states like South Carolina if he hopes to become the Democratic nominee. In the Palmetto State, he will especially need the support of black voters, National Public Radio
The Vermont senator held a rally in North Charleston over the weekend, which is an area that is predominantly black. While he touted the work he's done to promote racial justice, a majority of those in attendance were white.
"Let me be very clear. Nobody will fight harder to end institutional racism and to reform our broken criminal justice system," Sanders told the crowd.
As a couple of Sanders' rallies have been interrupted by protests by Black Lives Matters activists
, it's a sign that he's struggling to connect with black voters, according to NPR.
There were members of the Black Lives Matter group in attendance at the North Charleston rally, but they did not disrupt it.
Some of the group's members who attended the rally met with Sanders after it was over, including Muhiyidin d'Baha of North Charleston.
"Bernie's going through his own evolution," d'Baha said. "Coming from Vermont and being in the space of white privilege that he's enjoyed, he's gonna go through an experience of learning."
Danielle Vinson, a political scientist from Furman University, told NPR that Sanders, with his socialist views, may struggle to gain support among Southern Democrats, which tend to be more conservative than they are in other parts of the country.
"He would play well in parts of the West Coast," Vinson said. "But can you reach Southern Democrats? Can you reach African-American voters?"
In South Carolina, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton still holds a significant lead over Sanders. The Gravis Marketing poll
conducted in late July and early August had 77.5 percent of South Carolina voters saying they supported Clinton, with just 7.6 percent supporting Sanders.
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