Obama Thumps Clinton in S.C.; Edwards Takes 3rd
Barack Obama has bracketed his Iowa win in one of the whitest states of the Union with a victory in South Carolina, one of the nation’s blackest, in what appears to be a 2-to-1 rout over Hillary Rodham Clinton. Despite an apparent late surge by John Edwards in polls in the his home turf, it appears that he trails behind Clinton to take third place.
As Steven Taylor indicates, the exit polls being reported by CNN and MSNBC indicate that Obama received over 80% of the black vote but only 25% of the white vote in the state (with Edwards and Clinton getting roughly 37% each). One question going forward is whether the racial breakdown in South Carolina carries forward to subsequent primaries; if so, we would expect Obama to win primaries with Democratic electorates that are least 20% black, and be competitive in states that are more than 10% black. The other question is whether the Edwards vote, which is likely to be on the wane, is a vote for substantive change–essentially an “anti-Clinton” vote–or reflects voter skepticism towards black candidates, the apparent “Obama ceiling” noted by my fellow political scientist Philip Klinkner; so far, neither Obama nor Clinton seem particularly interested in cutting a deal to get Edwards out of the contest, suggesting that even the campaigns aren’t sure what the effects of Edwards’ departure from the competitive tier of candidates will be.