If you were expecting anything other than a big win for Obama in South Carolina today, you weren’t paying attention:
Senator Barack Obama won a commanding victory over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday, forging a coalition of support among black and white voters in a contest that sets the stage for a state-by-state fight for the party’s presidential nomination.
The N.Y. Times states that “In a bitter campaign here infused with discussions of race, Mr. Obama’s convincing victory puts him on equal footing with Mrs. Clinton — with two wins each in early-voting states — and gives him fresh momentum as the contest plunges into a nationwide battle over the next 10 days.” Obama’s received 55 percent of the vote, Clinton – 27 percent, and Edwards – 18 percent.
In the South Carolina contest, more than half of the voters were African-American, and surveys of voters leaving the polls suggested that their heavy turnout helped propel Mr. Obama to victory.
Mr. Obama, who had built an extensive grass-roots network throughout the state, received the support of about 80 percent of black voters, the exit polls showed. He also received about one-quarter of the white vote, with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Edwards splitting the remainder.
AP News noted on Obama’s win that Obama said at his victory rally: “The choice in this election is not about regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor, young versus old and it’s not about black versus white. It’s about the past versus the future.”
The audience chanted “Race doesn’t matter” as it awaited Obama to make his appearance after rolling up 55 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
But, race did matter, “in a primary that shattered turnout records.” Or, as Politico notes:
It’s the demographics, stupid: The black candidate won the black vote. The white woman won white women. The white man won white men.
Obama and his supporters can claim tonight that it’s about the “past versus the future” but we still have a long ways to go in this primary race, and over confidence after his South Carolina win, could prove to undermine Obama again, as it did after Iowa. Time will tell.
Hillary Clinton’s speech to supporters in S.C. can be found here. Hillary “called Senator Obama to congratulate him and wish him well,” and headed to Nashville, TN, telling supporters, “Now the eyes of the country turn to Tennessee and the other states voting on February 5th.”
She added that “millions and millions of Americans are going to have their voices heard.”