Could Clinton lose support from black voters (again)?

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Minority Vote May Help Propel Hillary Clinton

With a month until the South Carolina Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton just lost a supporter who might turn out to be significant. The lawyer for the family of Walter L. Scott, a Charleston man who was shot and killed by a police officer, has rescinded on his earlier endorsement of Hillary Clinton and publicly declared his support for Bernie Sanders.

"Hillary Clinton is more a representation of the status quo when I think about politics or about what it means to be a Democrat," said Justin T. Bamberg, the lawyer and a member of the South Carolina House on Monday. ""Bernie Sanders on the other hand is bold. He doesn't think like everyone else. He is not afraid to call things as they are."

Bamberg is just one supporter, but his shift conjures a hypothetical -- with a bit of a precedent. Clinton has been able to carry the support of black voters throughout this election season. But as the race progresses, pollsters will be thinking back to Clinton's past missteps when it comes to campaigning and race -- missteps that some say cost her the 2008 democratic nomination.

See Hillary Clinton duke it out with Bernie Sanders at a recent debate:

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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton duking it out during Democratic debates
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Could Clinton lose support from black voters (again)?
MILWAUKEE, WI - FEBRUARY 11: Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (L) and Hillary Clinton participate in the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidate debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on February 11, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.The debate is the final debate before the Nevada caucuses scheduled for February 20. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
DURHAM, NH - FEBRUARY 04: Democratic presidential candidates former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during their MSNBC Democratic Candidates Debate at the University of New Hampshire on February 4, 2016 in Durham, New Hampshire. This is the final debate for the Democratic candidates before the New Hampshire primaries. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, left, and Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, participate in the first Democratic presidential debate at the Wynn Las Vegas resort and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. While tonight's first Democratic presidential debate will probably lack the name-calling and sharp jabs of the Republican face-offs, there's still potential for strong disagreements between the party's leading contenders. Photographer: Josh Haner/Pool via Bloomberg
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton shake hands at the end of a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Early on in her first campaign for the democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton was carrying the African-American vote over Barack Obama, still largely an unknown at that point. In August 2007, she had six percentage points on him in terms of favorability among black Democrats. In October, Clinton led Obama by 24 percent. But things turned quickly by January, when polls showed that Obama had support from 59 percent of black Democrats, and Clinton had sunk to 31 percent.

So, what happened? According to Jason Johnson, a political editor of The Root, Clinton's loss of favor among black voters could be traced back to January 7, 2008, just two weeks before the South Carolina Democratic primary. The shift came when she made an controversial comment about Obama, comparing him to John F. Kennedy before saying, "but he was assassinated," which was left hanging, open to interpretation She also made comments that some felt downplayed Martin Luther King Jr.'s role in the civil rights movement. The controversial statements hit a sour note among black voters, and Johnson claims this was a significant reason for Clinton's loss in South Carolina, and then throughout the country. At a voter exit poll, 78 percent of black voters in the key "early state" said they had voted for Obama, and 88 percent said he had been attacked unfairly by Clinton.

This week in South Carolina, Clinton currently holds a significant lead on Sanders, boasting 76 percent support ahead of the primaries among African-Americans compared to his 22 percent. While Sanders' poll numbers among black residents may be low, it's worth noting that they've increased fivefold from just 4 percent in September, and Clinton's have dipped slightly from a high of 82 percent in November. Sanders also holds a higher percentage of support from white voters within the state than Hillary does, indicative of a narrowing gap between the two candidates' overall polling numbers.

While he has been so far unable to carry favorability among the demographic, Sanders has shown, at least, a genuine desire to learn and adapt. He showed his ability to swim with the currents in conversation by hiring Symone Sanders, a Black Lives Matter activist, as his press secretary in August, after he was confronted by demonstrators in Arizona months earlier. He is also enthusiastically supported by Atlanta-based rapper Killer Mike, who cited Sanders' stance on the Voting Rights Act during his endorsement speech and is currently campaigning for the Vermont senator in Iowa.

When asked, "Do black lives matter or do all lives matter?" via a Facebook post from an Iowa resident at the third Democratic debate, Sanders responded simply, "Black lives matter," beckoning a shriek of support and rounds of applause before he called for an end to institutional racism.

This close to the start of the primaries, it's quite likely that Clinton -- whose campaign has featured some awkward moments with Black Lives Matter activists and a Kwanzaa-themed Twitter icon -- also has black voters on her mind. And in just a few weeks, they'll get to decide.

See Bill and Hillary Clinton through the years:

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Bill and Hillary Clinton falling in love throwbacks
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Could Clinton lose support from black voters (again)?
Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton comforts Hillary Rodham Clinton on the set of the news program '60 Minutes' after a stage light unexpectedly broke loose from the ceiling and knocked her down, January 26, 1992. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 14: Certain Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton (R) is applauded by his wife Hillary 14 July 1992, before his address to the Women's Caucus of the 1992 Democratic National Convention, New York. Clinton is campaigning in New York along with his running mate Sen. Al Gore. (Photo credit should read MARK PHILLIPS/AFP/Getty Images)
1993: American statesman Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, and his wife, lawyer Hillary Rodham Clinton, have a laugh together on Capitol Hill, Washington DC. (Photo by Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: First Lady Hillary Clinton (L) laughs after introducing US President Bill Clinton 27 April in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. The President and First Lady were attending a celebration marking the 25th anniversary of the Kennedy Center. (Photo credit should read RICHARD ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, : US President Bill Clinton (R) gets a hug from his wife Hillary after the presidential debate 16 October at Shiley Theater at the University of San Diego in California. This is the last debate prior to the 05 presidential election. AFP PHOTO Vince BUCCI (Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, : US President Bill Clinton (R) leans towards US First Lady Hillary Clinton 17 July in the East Room of the White House during a ceremony for the Friends of Art and Preservation in Embassies Program. Arkansas court watchers are expecting President Clinton to testify by videotape 17 July in the criminal trial of two former associates. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Paul J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
291964 06: (NO NEWSWEEK - NO USNEWS) President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary dance at an inaugural ball January 20, 1997 in Washington, DC. Clinton attended various inaugural balls after his defeat of Bob Dole in the national presidential election. (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/Liaison)
PHILADELPHIA, : US President Bill Clinton has his chin pinched by First Lady Hillary Clinton during kick-off ceremonies for the Presidents' Summit for America's Future at the Marcus Foster Stadium 27 April in Philadelphia, PA. The Clintons were joined by the Vice President, and former Presidents Bush, and Carter for the volunteerism campaign. AFP PHOTO PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
ST. THOMAS, UNITED STATES: US President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton dance on the beach of Megan Bay, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands 04 January shortly after taking a swim. The President and his family concluded their vacation on the tropical island and are returning to Washington. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 10: (NO U.S. TABLOID SALES) U.S President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton smile at each other during a Democratic Business Leaders event September 10, 1998 in Washington D.C. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
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The post Could Clinton Lose Support From Black Voters (Again)? appeared first on Vocativ.

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