Obama Landslide Despite Racial Split in S.C.
Updated 10:07 p.m.
By Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta
As expected, Democratic voters in today's South Carolina primary were largely split along racial lines, with Barack Obama picking up overwhelming support among African Americans and a more competitive, three-way race for white voters, according to the National Election Pool exit poll.
Seventy-eight percent of black voters supported Obama, 19 percent backed Hillary Clinton and just 2 percent opted for John Edwards. Obama had a roughly 4 to 1 advantage among both black women and black men and large margins among both younger and older African Americans. (In the state's primary in 2004, 37 percent of African Americans voted for Edwards, 34 percent for John Kerry.)
Black voters made up 55 percent of the South Carolina electorate, up from 47 percent in 2004. As in the four previous Democratic contests this year, women made up about six in 10 Democratic voters.
Among white voters in South Carolina, 40 percent supported Edwards, 36 percent Clinton and 24 percent Obama. About half of white voters who made up their minds in the past three days went for Edwards.
There is a gender gap among whites. Forty-five percent of white men went for Edwards, 28 percent for Clinton and 27 percent for Obama, while 42 percent of white women went for Clinton, 36 percent for Edwards and 22 percent for Obama.
This exit poll once again shows a Democratic electorate focused heavily on "change." More than half of voters called it the single most important attribute they were looking for in a candidate. That's been the top attribute in each of the previous contests. And as in Nevada, the economy was the breakaway top issue among voters.
On one measure there was broad agreement across racial lines: About seven in 10 white voters said they'd be satisfied if Obama becomes the nominee; and eight in ten African Americans would be happy with Clinton as the party's choice. At the same time, however, there are differences in levels of enthusiasm. More than eight in 10 black voters would be "very satisfied" with Obama as the party's nominee, 38 percent of white voters said they'd be that happy. There was a narrower gap on Clinton: 45 percent of whites said they'd be very satisfied if she were the nominee, as did 35 percent of blacks.
As he has elsewhere, Obama scored better among younger white voters, and with those with higher incomes and more education. Eight in 10 whites supporting Obama sought a change-oriented candidate, compared with fewer than three in 10 among other white voters. More than a third of white Obama backers said "only Clinton" ran an unfair campaign.
Among Edwards supporters, more than six in 10 said they'd be happy with either Clinton or Obama as the party's nominee. Seven in 10 of Clinton or Obama supporters said they'd be satisfied if the other candidate became the Democratic nominee.
Among voters who voted for Clinton, 69 percent would be satisfied with Obama as the Democratic candidate; among Obama voters, 71 percent would be OK with Clinton.
Posted at 8:24 PM ET on Jan 26, 2008
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