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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

The Carolinas' Primary Purpose: Sorting The Democratic Field

Tommy Tomlinson

First of all, let’s acknowledge that South Carolina does the presidential primary right.

It’s on a Saturday, which means most people have the day off. Any election day should be a celebration – tailgating and wearing team colors and such. South Carolina, being forward-thinking and all, has already stocked up on fireworks.

So the primary there is this weekend, and the one in North Carolina is the following Tuesday. And if you’re a Democrat, you can’t say you don’t have choices.

There’s a debate in Charleston Tuesday night, which might be just enough time for a team of scientists to reassemble Michael Bloomberg and haul him out to the stage. Bloomberg showed up fashionably late to the race, tossing around $100 million here and $100 million there, and basically bought his way into last week’s debate in Las Vegas. His opponents, especially Elizabeth Warren, lit him up like McAdenville at Christmas.

Bloomberg seemed surprised that the other candidates would come at him just because he championed stop-and-frisk, has a drawer full of non-disclosure agreements with women who accused him of sexual harassment, and, oh yeah, used to be a Republican.

To be fair, Warren used to be a Republican, too. And for most of his career, Bernie Sanders has not identified as a Democrat. But Sanders has built enough of a following to make him the favorite after the first few primaries. It feels like he and Warren have real support – people who are thrilled to go to the polls and vote for them.

Everybody else, it seems like, has the opposite kind of support – people who are mostly thrilled to vote against President Trump, and believe their candidate is the one who can beat him. Bloomberg is in that group for sure, and also Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. Joe Biden built his whole campaign around being a Trumpbuster, but it hasn’t been enough to catch fire with voters.

At least not yet. Biden is expected to do better in the Carolinas, which have a bigger percentage of black voters than the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. But Sanders is strong in both states, and Warren raised a ton of money after the debate, and it’s too early to count anybody out. This time four years ago, a lot of smart people thought the Republican nominee was going to be Ted Cruz.

I hope all of this makes clear that your vote counts. A lot. Voters in the Carolinas will make a big difference in deciding which candidates drop out and which ones catch that sweet cocktail of hope and campaign cash.

The bottom line is, we have a big say in who eventually faces off against Donald Trump in November. And no matter where you stand, if THAT’s not enough motivation … well, a defibrillator might be in order.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.