SC voters reacted to the Bill Clinton mudslide by giving Barack Obama (D-IL) a landslide. The margin of victory for Obama was 2:1 over Hillary (55 percent v. 27 percent) – significantly larger than pre-primary polling had indicated. And his appeal proved biracial and dual gender.
The estimated turnout was a record-setting 530,000 people - 100,000 more than the number voting in the Republican primary week ago.
Exit polling showed that more six percent more black voters turned out this year than in 2004 (53 percent vs. 47 percent), and 8 out of 10 of them voted for Obama in overwhelming numbers. In contrast, six percent fewer white voters went to the polls as compared to 2004 (45 percent vs. 51 percent), and they split between Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and John Edwards (D-NC) with each getting 38 percent of these votes. But Obama still got a quarter of the white vote – in part, because he remains the most popular candidate amongst younger voters.
Because of the overwhelming support from black voters, Obama also won more women’s votes overall than Hillary (53 percent vs. 30 percent). Only 19 percent of black women voted for Hillary, suggesting that her “woman problem” may have morphed into a “black woman problem” (she got twice as many votes from white women as Obama, 44 percent to 22 percent). It remains to be seen whether this pattern bears out on Super Duper Tuesday.
Women were more likely to vote for Obama (53 percent) over Clinton (30 percent), although this is largely due to race. Black women accounted for 33 percent of the electorate, and they supported Obama over Clinton, 79 percent to 19 percent. Among white women, Clinton won by 44 percent to 34 percent for Edwards and 22 percent for Obama.
To underscore his desire to be an agent of change, Obama’s campaign in SC departed from “politics as usual,” reports The Washington Post:
Obama virtually swept the African American vote despite rejecting typical tactics deployed in the South; aides said they hadn't paid "street money" to local leaders and community organizers to get people to the polls. Obama campaign officials had bragged about bucking this long-entrenched system, but they weren't certain until Saturday whether it would work.
The WaPo attributes his success to a superior ground organization made up of “9,000 volunteers and nearly 150 voting-day staging areas” that provided “an extra boost” for him at the polls.
The New York Times characterizes Obama’s victory as “a test of mettle” that showed “he could not only endure everything the Clinton campaign threw at him … but also draw votes across racial lines even in a Southern state.”
Obama’s soaring, lilting, graceful victory speech gave The Stiletto goose bumps:
Over two weeks ago, we saw the people of Iowa proclaim that our time for change has come. But there were those who doubted this country’s desire for something new - who said Iowa was a fluke not to be repeated again.
Well, tonight, the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina. …
I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina. I saw crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children. I saw shuttered mills and homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from all walks of life, and men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. I saw what America is, and I believe in what this country can be.
But he also took care of some business – without ever mentioning the Clintons by name:
We are looking for more than just a change of party in the White House. We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington - a status quo that extends beyond any particular party. And right now, that status quo is fighting back with everything it’s got; with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face, whether those problems are health care they can’t afford or a mortgage they cannot pay.