SC Polls and the Racial Dimensions of the Democratic Contest

To provide some new data in support of my post Clinton v. Sanders: Some Key Numbers, here are some numbers from a new NBC/WSJ/Marist poll from South Carolina:

In the current poll, Sanders leads Clinton among white Democrats, 51 percent to 46 percent. But Clinton crushes him among African Americans in the state, 68 percent to 21 percent.

Even among African Americans under the age of 45, Clinton is ahead of Sanders by 17 points, 52 percent to 35 percent.

Emphasis mine.

This suggests that the basic dynamics of the contest has not changed even after Sanders huge win in NH. Clinton leads in this poll 60-32.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. MBunge says:

    Somehow, I don’t think too many liberals will complain about the results in South Carolina being suspect because the voting public there is “too black” the way they whined about Iowa and New Hampshire being “too white.”


  2. Gustopher says:

    @MBunge: If is usually conservatives who complain about an electorate being too black. For instance, the periodic statements that Democrats are losing the white vote, as if that alone delegitimizes a win.

    To be fair to Republicans, however, they do what they can to ensure minimal black turnout, so they walk the walk.

  3. MBunge says:

    @Gustopher: If is usually conservatives who complain about an electorate being too black.

    And liberals mimicking that attitude toward whites is really going to make the world a better place.

    A lot of Democrats are drunk on demographics and think that if Obama could win while massively losing the white vote, that’s the new paradigm for every Democrat. I suspect that…

    A. They’ll discover how badly they’ve underestimated Obama’s accomplishment, and…
    B. It will be impossible for them to retake and hold the House and Senate if they keep getting killed with white voters.


  4. Kari Q says:


    If you exclude the Deep South, Obama didn’t do so badly with white voters. I think the median white vote he got in the coastal and Midwest states was around 42%? It was still a minority, but much closer to an even split than if you include the South.

  5. Grewgills says:

    I think you misunderstand. The talk of demographics in New Hampshire and Iowa has been about it playing to Sanders’ strength primarily among more educated and young white voters. As the election moves on to less white areas Sanders is going to have some difficulties, as his outreach to minority communities hasn’t been strong, largely because he has served a state that is 95% white and has less than 2% of the state that is any racial minority. He hasn’t had to have outreach to serve his constituency up until now and it shows.
    South Carolina also shouldn’t have an outsized impact either. I would rather see a few more demographically representative states early. Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Michigan, and California would all be better choices for first 3 in the nation races. Starting with Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and California would be a much better start to our primary campaigns that what we have now.

  6. @MBunge:

    And liberals mimicking that attitude toward whites is really going to make the world a better place.

    Except this is not the issue. The issue is that if we are looking at the Democratic nomination process as well as the overall makeup of the Democratic electorate, it is foolish to draw deep conclusions from IA and NH since they are among the whitest states in the union and therefore not representative at all of what the overall nominating electorate looks like (and how it is likely to behave).

    I see no way in which Democrats are antagonizing whites as a group the way that Republicans regularly do in regards to Latinos and African-Americans. As such, I am not sure what you are arguing here.