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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.

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About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State College in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi.

Comments

  1. superdestroyer says:

    As the Republican Party collapses and the Democratic Party becomes the only relevant political party, I think that America is seeing the future of politics.

    The future of politics is that the Democratic Primaries will be the real election for president and that identify and special interest politics will dominate in such elections.

    I think that the election also disproves the idea that if the Republicans made an effort to attract black voters that they would be able to get a significant portion. Blacks are now shown to vote for a Democrat over a republican very time and then will vote for the black candidate over the white candidate.

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  2. I seriously doubt there is going to be a one-party system any time in the near future. The weaker of the two major parties will adapt, as it always has since the two existing parties got their legally privileged positions around the turn of the 20th century.

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  3. FireWolf says:

    I would have to agree with you Chris that it’s doubtful we’ll see a one party system. If we do, we might as well paint our flag red, toss in a hammer and sickle, and start learning a li’l Cyrillic.

    вы не согласились бы?

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  4. superdestroyer says:

    When you look at the demographic changes in the U.S. either the Republicans figure out a way to appeal to blacks and/or Hispanics, or the U.S. becomes a de facto one party state. When you look at politics in states like California, NY, Mass, Md, Illinois, etc it is easy to see that the U.S. can become a one party state.

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  5. rodney dill says:

    As the Republican Party collapses and the Democratic Party becomes the only relevant political party, I think that America is seeing the future of politics.

    The Republican Party will just redefine itself to incorporate enough people to remain or become again viable. Much like the Democrat party did after Reagan/Bush 41 prior to the advent of Hillbilly boy.
    After all there are only two main opposed operative political stances that drive the American political process. ‘We has Power’ and ‘We wants Power.’ Everything else is just apparently window dressing.

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  6. superdestroyer says:

    Rodney,

    The Democratic Party has dominated in places like Philly and Baltimore for decades. Has the Republicans managed to adjust to the population? I have not seen it.

    If you have a secret of how Republicans can appeal to blacks and Hispanics, they will pay you a lot for it. They have tried to decades and every idea has failed miserably.

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  7. rodney dill says:

    The Democrats dominating in certain places or with certain constituencies is far different than the GOP disappearing entirely. Each party only needs to only represent about a third of the total population and not become to non-palatable to the other third. There will still be two parties, with one being the GOP, it may just be reinvented as both parties have done in the past to capture enough of the middle.

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  8. superdestroyer says:

    Rodney,

    America is about 1/3 non-white and non-whites rarely if ever vote for Republicans. That means that Republicans have to win a majority of the white vote (actually about 54% these days). If non-whites turned out to vote as the same rate as whites, the Republican Party would be irrelevant today.

    Since the Hispanic and black populations are growing faster than whites and minority voter turnout is going up. That is why over 100 Democratic Congressmen are running for reelection unopposed.

    Demographics ensures that the Democratic Party will become dominate eventually. The failures of the Bush Administration have just sped up the process.

    So in the future, the Democratic primary for president will be the de facto Presidential elections but like the Democratic primaries in Chicago are the real election.

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  9. rodney dill says:

    Again that is as the Republican party is currently defined. My premise is that Republican will redefine its footing going forward. Just as both parties have in the past. Benjamin Disraeli perhaps said it best — “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?” — Perhaps it will be more difficult and slower for the GOP to redefine itself than it has been for the Democrats, but my prediction is that is will happen.

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  10. just me says:

    America is about 1/3 non-white and non-whites rarely if ever vote for Republicans.

    This assumes that nothing changes-either for the non white as a voter or for those who run/participate in/identify as republican.

    Power shifts, and I just don’t see the American voter handing the keys over permanently to one party to reek whatever havoc they so choose.

    At some point, the voter realizes they don’t like the havoc being reeked, and they vote the other direction.

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  11. superdestroyer says:

    Blacks have been voting overwhelmingly for Democrats for close to 50 years now. The Republicans have had tons of chances to get a higher percentage and all of them have failed.

    Many Americans are quite comfortable living in a one party state. Look at states like Maryland or Mass. Look at people living in DC, Chicago, Cleveland, or Detroit. Most of them have probably never voted for a Republican or most general election in urban centers are moot exercises for local elections that were decided in the Democratic primary.

    It is much easier to believe that black and Hispanics keep voting for the Democratic Party rather than believe than the republicans can find a strategy that can appeal to them. If Edwards or Clinton cannot get blacks to vote for them. The Republicans are certainly not going to get any minority votes.

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  12. just me says:

    Blacks have been voting overwhelmingly for Democrats for close to 50 years now. The Republicans have had tons of chances to get a higher percentage and all of them have failed.

    And before that they voted overwelmingly GOP.

    That is the points. Things change, and you have to account for that change.

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  13. Grewgills says:

    destroyer,
    Rodney and just me have it right. People’s positions and accepted wisdom change over time and the political parties change with them. Their only other choice is obscurity and few in the parties are willing to accept that fate.
    Sorry you feel oppressed by those minorities who refuse to accept your view of how things should be.

    And before that they voted overwelmingly GOP.

    and for good reason in both instances.

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  14. superdestroyer says:

    You are forgetting that a political party has to be able to win a certain number of elections to remain relevant. The Republican party will soon not be able to win enough elections to remain relevant. With over 100 Democratic members of Congress running unopposed, there will soon come a time when that number is over 200.

    Given minorities refusal to vote for Republicans and the number of noncompetitive districts, there are few prospects for 20 somethings who want to be Republicans. The Bush Administration has destroyed the next generation of Republicans.

    With all demographic trends against Republicans and with no next generation, it is just a matter of time before the Republicans go away.

    If Hillary Clinton cannot find issue or a campaign strategy that will get black to vote for her, then there is nothing that Republicans can do. The Republicans will go out of existence well before any change can occur that will get blacks, Hispanics, or Asians to vote for them.

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  15. rodney dill says:

    Blacks have been voting overwhelmingly for Democrats for close to 50 years now. The Republicans have had tons of chances to get a higher percentage and all of them have failed.

    This supports my argument. Republican haven’t had to ‘win’ over minorities over the last 50 years for there to be periods of Republican Presidents and Republican congresses. They’ve only had to win enough different people over to win elections, the same as the Democrats try to do.

    You are forgetting that a political party has to be able to win a certain number of elections to remain relevant.
    The Republican party will soon not be able to win enough elections to remain relevant.

    My argument addresses this. This is only a problem if you apply static thinking to the Republican position. The party will only become irrelevant if they don’t change. But just as ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ the party will change to incorporate roughly 1/3 of the population as outlined above. The GOP position may not resemble its current form, but as a party it will survive.

    Many predicted the demise of the Democrat party after Reagan and the Reagan Democrats established the predominance of the Republican party for the time, but the Democrats adjusted their line to include more of middle America and they recaptured the initiative. One thing about pendulum’s — they swing both ways.

    The Republicans will go out of existence well before any change can occur that will get blacks, Hispanics, or Asians to vote for them.

    That’s just a Democrat wet dream, you should be careful who you are listening to. If the Republicans change to slowly it will affect them for a few election cycles before the new Republican party emerges.

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  16. The Hero and the Queen of Darkness – A Fairy Tale for Our Time…

    And it came to pass that the great hero broke the spell and set free the serfs of Iowa and Carolina. And the scribes and town criers sang his praises and told of his great deeds and of his victory and prophesied the death of the dark Queen……

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