Back in the 1990s, the Clintons ran against black people. Sister Souljah, the welfare "reforms" which killed. (Another, extended, discussion is here, in Salon.) Hillary Clinton has repudiated none of this; back when she wrote how proud she was of the "reforms." Yet here we are, with blacks overwhelmingly having voted for Clinton in South Carolina.
My usual roost is the Pacific Northwest, and I don't know any southern blacks. Most online questions are answered with "How dare you ask?" and slams at a white person (which assumes that I am white) who dares to question the motivations of black people. I
am a big black bird, and am not all that sure I get hominids of any color. But this I
know: not death, nor hunger, nor yet loneliness know the color of your
skin. When I see people ignoring the death and misery of their own I
wonder why. If I'm going to have to live with, perhaps vote for, a militaristic candidate with a history of semi-racist callouts to white people and neo-liberal economic and social policies, I'd like an explanation.
The black radical socialist Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) writes: "They tune Sanders out, because their main purpose for
voting in national elections is to keep the White Man’s Party, the
Republicans, out of the White House, and believe Clinton has a better
shot. Almost everything else is bullshit."
On the other hand, this report from Vice seems to show that Sanders has poor name recognition in South Carolina ("I don't know much about Sanders") and points out that the Clintons have a long history there.
On yet a third hand, Sanders is not a Christian, and the churches are enormously important to southern blacks. That is a conservative Christianity, and women are very important in those churches. The white atheistic socialist Sanders had to make his case to people who know nothing about him and his ideas, and he did not have much time to do so.
I think Clinton's history in the state tipped the balance, no matter how awful her politics have been at the national level. The horrifying statistics of the Clinton welfare reforms are largely meaningless to that audience, and will continue to be so until they are more extensively discussed, and examples given. They will have to be made real to the audience. It takes a lot to get voters to reject someone and even moreso when that is someone who they have trusted. We so badly want to believe the iconography of the candidates, even though nothing human could possibly live up to it. Story, that mighty force of nature, triumphs (trumps!) the unromantic realities.