Tomorrow, South Carolina will hold its First in the South primary to determine the state’s pick for the GOP nomination. But while most of the state’s focus is on who people will be voting for, what about those who are actually doing the voting?
With the state’s unemployment rate well above the national average and more than 18 percent of residents living in poverty, economic security is certainly a driving concern for the majority of voters. But, given the GOP field’s stances, it doesn’t seem to be a concern candidates are taking to heart.
Here’s a look at how the GOP candidates’ positions would affect the vulnerable populations of South Carolina, by the numbers:
— Over 3,000,000: There are at least at least 3,380,000 eligible voters in South Carolina, but many students, seniors, low-income voters, and minority voters may find it difficult to actually cast a ballot thanks to the state’s new voter ID law. Rick Santorum called it a “common-sense anti-fraud” measure that prevents the vote of “people who probably shouldn’t be voting.” Newt Gingrich blasted President Obama’s rejection of the law as trying to “steal elections.”
— Over 200,000: There are at least 213,000 unemployed South Carolinians contributing to the state’s 9.9 percent unemployment rate. While those receiving unemployment insurance actually work harder to find a job, according to studies, Gingrich equates joblessness with laziness and demands that any benefits come through a work-training program — or a drug test.
— Over 400,000: There were at least 408,000 veterans living in South Carolina in 2009. veterans increasingly need to be treated for traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and other health consequences of war. While Mitt Romney briefly flirted with turning the VA into a voucher system, Gingrich adopted the idea wholesale, stating we should “find a way to have a voucherized system for those who want it.”
— Over 650,000: In 2009, there were over 650,000 people in the state participating in the food stamp program, and the economic recession has no doubt only increased those numbers. Rather than address the need of vulnerable South Carolinians, Gingrich and Santorum traffic in “ugly, racial stereotypes” to justify calls to drug test recipients and cut funding for the needy.