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Obama Wins South Carolina

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) has won an overwhelming victory in South Carolina's Democratic primary thanks to a huge margin among black voters who made up more than half of the state's electorate.

More thoughts on the huge Obama win shortly.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 26, 2008; 7:33 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Comments

Lyle's idea about a "Republican strategy" for Obama, presumably Republicans crossing over to vote for him, is beyond belief and clearly irrational. The Republicans DO NOT WANT to run agains Obama. They are chomping at the bit to run against Hillary Clinton. They've been preparing for that campaign for years now. In head-to-head polls Hillary loses against the leading Republican contenders, while Obama beats every one of them. They have no strategy at all for an unanticipated race against Obama. His strength as a candidate has completely blindsided them.

It sounds to me as if Lyle is basically trying to spread some Clinton campaign spin.

Posted by: PastorGene | January 28, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

As a Republican I put little faith in all this stuff about Republicans voting for Barack--or for Hillary--in order to face a weaker candidate in November. There's simply not that much difference. There are voters hiding out there under flat stones who would automatically vote against a black; there are similar voters who would vote against any woman; and a good many of them are the same voters. Similarly, Obama's image suffers from his lack of experience, Hillary's from her excess of it; and what can be done with this will depend on whom the Republicans nominate.

No doubt, as Kierthos says, some habitual Republicans have voted in the Democratic primary. In my state, my own mother has changed her registration because she is so impressed by Obama. But I doubt that any sensible Republican organizer is wasting time and money on this sort of thing. The Democrats, with the help of the media, can carve each other up without Republican interference. What Republicans need is a Republican candidate who will limit the loss in November.

Posted by: iyenori | January 27, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

kierthos: Thanks for the info, it fits with what my argument has been all along. The 10 to 15% of Repubs voting for Obama includes those that have changed their registration to vote in the closed states. When this is figured into the Repubs strategy of stopping Hillary, my predictions with a + or - 4% MOE has been amazingly accurate.

Posted by: lylepink | January 27, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Basically, here's the way it works. The primaries in South Carolina are not party-registration specific, by which I mean that as long as you are a registered voter, you may vote in either the Republican or the Democratic primary, but not in both.

The Republican primary was last weekend, and had a total of 443,203 votes cast. The Democratic primary, yesterday, had a total of 532,227 votes cast. (It is interesting to note that the total number of votes that Obama received in the Democratic primary exceeded the combined number of votes that McCain and Romney received in the Republican primary.)

In both primaries, that was just shy of a million voters. South Carolina has (as of April 2007) a little under 2.5 million registered voters. Which means that about 40% of the registered voters showed up for the primaries.

Now, is it possible that some voters who typically vote Republican voted in the Democratic primary? Yes, it is. But why would they vote Obama? As I already mentioned, Obama is doing better in head-to-head polls versus the Republican candidates than Clinton is, so giving him a boost in an early state doesn't help the Republicans in a long-term situation. Also, shameful as it is, there are some serious bastions of racism in this state, and they are predominantly Republican. (Well, except for the neo-Nazis an hour's drive away... I'm not kidding. The National Socialists candidate for President lives an hour away from me. Don't worry, he can't actually run. Something about being a convicted felon.) Many of the old-school early-Strom Thurmond era racists were Democrats, but they're mostly dead now from old age.

In short (too late), while I do not doubt that some Republicans in this state voted in the Democratic primary, I highly doubt that it was as many as 50,000+ of them (your statement of 10% or more).

Posted by: kierthos | January 27, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Correction on my last Post. Could you clear the question up about how Repubs could skip their Primary and then vote in the Dem Primary?? I did not mean voting in both. Since you are from SC, you may have the answer.

Posted by: lylepink | January 27, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

kierthos: My information may be wrong on this, but the Repubs that did not vote in the Repub primary could vote in the Dem primary. This doesn't seem right to me, but I seen it somewhere. Hope we have someone from SC that can clear this up as to how accurate it is.

Posted by: lylepink | January 27, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

As a resident of South Carolina, I honestly have to say that I doubt that 10-15% of the votes cast in the Democratic primary on Saturday were cast by Republicans. It's not like you can vote in both primaries here, and the Republican one was a very close race (and, as I recall, predicted as such).

Furthermore, recent polls have shown that in a head-to-head race, Obama would beat any of the Republican contenders by a wider margin then Clinton would. Therefore, it stands to reason that a Republican attempt to skew the polls would be better served by trying to get Clinton the nomination, rather then risk everything by helping Obama get a decisive win over Clinton.

Posted by: kierthos | January 27, 2008 6:57 AM | Report abuse

BB: I have to agree except, IMHO, Super Dooper Tuesday will give Hillary the delegates needed to sew up the nomination on the way to being our next Prez. I think the Hispanic vote will be overwhelming for Hillary as the black vote is for Obama.

Posted by: lylepink | January 27, 2008 1:03 AM | Report abuse

So, I wonder if the folks who claimed conspiracy in NH have a response to the numbers out of SC. Or perhaps it should have been a 70% victory for Obama!

Here's my theory. SC was a perfect place to test run a negative campaign against Obama. Assume that a loss has already been factored into the equation. If a negative campaign drives Obama down to a near tie with Clinton, then go national. If it backfires--as it did--nobody but the political geeks will notice. [If you're posting here like I am, you are one.] Obama can hardly run national media saying Hillary said nasty things about me in South Carolina!

I'm happy with the results (and I plan to vote for Hillary in VA). The negative campaign backfired and someone will put a muzzle on Bill. After a decent (sometimes odd) speech, she had a terrific question and answer session in Tennessee tonight. Gotta love C-Span! I predict an overall win for her on SuperDuperTuesday, but not near enough to tie up the nomination.

Good! These candidates need to be blooded. If Obama thinks the allusions from Clinton allies are bad, he should see what the Republicans will come up with this summer. Likewise, Clinton needs to be tested and hard. The eventual nominee will be ready to mop the floor with either McCain or Romney. [Huckabee is a wet dream for the Dems, so I discount him.]

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 26, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

lylepink writes
"my numbers are perfect."

You're arguing your numbers are perfect, as long as you include the margin of error?

OK man, whatever helps you sleep at night.

Posted by: bsimon | January 26, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

bsimon: Do the math. my prediction, O 44, C 31, E 25. With a + or - of 4%, and the 10 to 15% of Repubs voting for O, my numbers are perfect.

Posted by: lylepink | January 26, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Lyle, your theory is bunk. Obama is over predictions, HRC is right on, JRE is below.

Posted by: bsimon | January 26, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

bsimon: Think back a little and I have said I expected the Repub strategy to account for about 10 to 15% of the votes for Obama. Now by looking at the numbers coming out of SC, I was not far off, or as in the margin of error of + or - 4%, which is pretty good.

Posted by: lylepink | January 26, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

"The Repub strategy did indeed work, along with the "Race" issue injected by the Obama campaign and The Media."

Lyle, perhaps it wasn't a conspiracy, but voters just tired of Clinton lies and misrepresentations. Perhaps even you will too, one day.

Posted by: bsimon | January 26, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

I see this a little different than JimD and Mark. The Repub strategy did indeed work, along with the "Race" issue injected by the Obama campaign and The Media. I did try to realize how expectations would be spun, but the spin is way beyond anything I had imagined. Although my thinking was just about the way things turned out.

Posted by: lylepink | January 26, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Mark & Jim, please keep up the running dialog.

Sidebar; if Caroline calls Obama this generation's JFK; will HRC supports Shut TF Up about the comparison?

Posted by: bsimon | January 26, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Surprise, surprise. MSNBC says Hillary will not make a concession speech and will not take questions from reporters. Just the basic campaign speech ignoring the unpleasantness of the more then two to one loss tonight.

Posted by: dyork | January 26, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

More votes in Democratic SC primary than last week's Republican SC primary. Not bad for a red state!

The politics of unity & hope beat the politics of division. The national strategy beats the cynical southern strategy.

Yes we can!

Posted by: optimyst | January 26, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

"she is smart and SO MUCH MORE LIKEABLE than Theresa
Heinz."

Mark, that doesn't say all that much about her likeability.

Seriously, considering Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's comparison of Obama to JFK, a good part of JFK's image was also the young, stylish and beautiful wife. I think Michelle Obama is a 21st century version - a successful professional woman as well as young, pretty and stylish.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 26, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Mark

Hopefully this win will carry some momentum into Tsunami Tuesday.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 26, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

My wife jusr said, about Mrs. Obama, "she is smart and SO MUCH MORE LIKEABLE than Theresa
Heinz."

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 26, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Jim - I remember your "wow" moment, and this was a first rate cheerleading campaign speech.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 26, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

From Obama's speech
"A war that should have never been AUTHORIZED and never been waged."

It took more then George Bush to get us where we are today in Iraq.

Posted by: dyork | January 26, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Obama is going to win more SC votes than McCain and Romney combined in the Republican primary. More votes - maybe as many as 100,000 more - were cast in the Democratic primary in SC than in the Republican primary. That's stunning in a state that voted 58% for Bush in 2004.

Posted by: dhbecker | January 26, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

"We're up against the notion that you can say anything and do anything to win an election." Barrack Obama, 2 minutes ago

Posted by: jimd52 | January 26, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Mark,

My "wow" moment was when a white, 40-something, blue collar, small business man, Florida redneck told me that he had not voted in 20 years but was registering so he could support Obama.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 26, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Jim, I think the Ds out-polled the Rs in SC.

That is amazing.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 26, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

According to CNN with 93% of the vote in, Obama has almost as many votes as were cast in the entire 2004 SC Democratic primary.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 26, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

The age split of voters is extraordinary because so many younger persons actually voted.

Last spring, when I thought BHO was a future candidate, not a current one, I reported to you that 20k+ showed up on a drizzly Friday in Austin to cheer him, and much to my surprise, all four of my adult children were for him. The youngest, the chemist, worried about his name, but certainly not his race.

But I discounted that, because we all know young folks do not vote. I was wrong, and it is good for young folks to finally be involved again.

I and my friends were so eager for JFK -
did not matter that we had R parents.
That is what this phenomenon looks like, to me, tonight.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 26, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Obama is speaking in front of a predominantly white group of supporters - I don't think that is a coincidence.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 26, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg just issued a statment basically saying that Barrack Obama is the JFK of our time.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 26, 2008 9:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Florida matters all that much for the Democrats - the candidates were not allowed to campaign. The Clintons are trying to spin Florida into significance. But, hopefully, the very close Republican race will overshadow the meaningless Democratic race.

Things do appear to be moving McCain's way. He has gotten two big endorsements in the last two days. I took advantage of early voting and cast my vote for McCain.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 26, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

The Clintons have to be concerned about Obama's overwhelming majority among African Americans. That is going to be a problem going forward unless they can turn it around. The conventional wisdom had Hillary winning older African Americans, especially African American women - that did not happen.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 26, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Jimd52,

Those numbers are yesterday's story. What about Florida. The poll numbers fun begins there.

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 26, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Obama won 25% or so of the white vote but had a plurality among young white voters (from what the CNN talking heads are saying). That is a higher proportion of the white vote than the pundits were predicting. Although I was a little off on the percentages, I did predict the story line would be that young white voters went for Obama and I had his margin over Clinton about right. Don't think I'll get a t-shirt though looking at the other predictions.

Looking at the pre-election polls, I noticed that there were about 10 - 15% undecided. I noted in another thread that the key would be how the undecideds broke. CNN says they broke overwhelmingly for Obama, which makes sense because his margin is much greater than any of the polls predicted.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 26, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Bill mentioned that he has his office in Harlem. Am I the only one that remembers that he tried to put the office in Manhatten but was turned down on the huge amount of money he wanted taxpayers to pay for it and only moved to Harlem at the last minute.

Posted by: dyork | January 26, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

"Vote Clinton. She's the only won who can beat McCain and Romney."

Posted by: rmccann | January 26, 2008 08:01 PM

If that is so, why do Obama and Edwards outperform her in head-to-head polls against the Republicans.

Posted by: jimd52 | January 26, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

KENNEDYS TREND ... OBAMA !!!

ACCORDING TO MSNBC, CAROLINE KENNEDY SCHLOSSBERG, THE LAST SURVIVOR OF THE CAMELOT WHITE HOUSE, IS PASSING THE TORCH TO A NEW MESSAGER OF HOPE ... SEN. BARACK OBAMA !!!

Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | January 26, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Did you catch Bill's speach? It was all about him! I'm looking forward to him returning to his role as Democratic Party elder statesman. Is he campaigning to help Hillary become president or to defend his legacy.

Posted by: matt_ahrens | January 26, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Trumbull | January 26, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

"We now turn our attention to the millions of Americans who will make their voices heard"

Bill made the same statement in his speech. Basically they are saying the voters who gave Obama two wins and brought him close in NH and Nev didn't matter. Classless.

Just heard Hillary is going to give her speech after Obama. Don't the losers usually let the last word go to the winner?

Posted by: dyork | January 26, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

At my 8:16 PM post it should read:

"The Billary dynamic duo had written OFF S.C. a long time ago."

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 26, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

This from Hill:

"I have called Senator Obama to congratulate him and wish him well.

"Thank you to the people of South Carolina who voted today and welcomed me into their homes over the last year. Your stories will stay with me well beyond this campaign and I am grateful for the support so many of you gave to me.

"We now turn our attention to the millions of Americans who will make their voices heard in Florida and the twenty-two states as well as American Samoa who will vote on February 5th.

"In the days ahead, I'll work to give voice to those who are working harder than ever to be heard. For those who have lost their job or their home or their health care, I will focus on the solutions needed to move this country forward. That's what this election is about. It's about our country, our hopes and dreams. Our families and our future."

That was a quick concession!

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 26, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Hillary released a statement instead of making a concession speech and congratulating Obama. Classless once more like she was in Iowa. And now Bill Clinton is giving a speech. It reminds me of when he left the White House and had a couple high profile speechs when he should have shut up and allowed the new President have the day to himself.

Posted by: dyork | January 26, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

This from Hill:

"I have called Senator Obama to congratulate him and wish him well.

"Thank you to the people of South Carolina who voted today and welcomed me into their homes over the last year. Your stories will stay with me well beyond this campaign and I am grateful for the support so many of you gave to me.

"We now turn our attention to the millions of Americans who will make their voices heard in Florida and the twenty-two states as well as American Samoa who will vote on February 5th.

"In the days ahead, I'll work to give voice to those who are working harder than ever to be heard. For those who have lost their job or their home or their health care, I will focus on the solutions needed to move this country forward. That's what this election is about. It's about our country, our hopes and dreams. Our families and our future."

Did I hear someone say Bubba lost S.C.?

That is EXACTLY the game plan. Bill lost, not Hillary.

The Billary dynamic duo had written S.C. a long time ago. So, what do this sneaky couple dream up: The "blame it on Bill" defense. Hillary gets a pass and Slick Willie enjoys himself immensely.

Posted by: rfpiktor | January 26, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Agree with the another poster-

Chris- can you and the media stop with the race obsession? How about looking at the vote by age?...

The mainstream media is falling right into the Clinton trap of making the Dem campaign about race...

Obama is the Tiger Woods of politics.

Posted by: cjroses | January 26, 2008 8:03 PM | Report abuse

what's most amazing about this is the negative impact BIll had on the race. He basically lost it for Hillary.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl | January 26, 2008 8:03 PM | Report abuse

You guys really don't want Slick Willy back? Come one People. Vote Clinton. She's the only won who can beat McCain and Romney.

Posted by: rmccann | January 26, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Chris but must take issue with one of your statements again: Obama hasn't just won big because of the black vote - he's won big because he's also won 25% of the white vote when recent polls were forecasting he'd win just 10%.

Let's not swallow the Clinton race-bait spin that Obama is just the black candidate, shall we?

Posted by: adamcgray | January 26, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

61% of the voters were women, the democratic party is losing white men - increasingly white men are finding little of interest from the democrats - go to meetings of the democrats, they simply do not care about white men. If you look at where the fundrasing dollars went, the democrats are telling white men to look elsewhere.

Posted by: Miata7 | January 26, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

YES HE CAN! I love it. I am so damn happy.

Posted by: GoHuskies2004 | January 26, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Also don't miss the fact that 61 PERCENT of voters were WOMEN.

Posted by: Boutan | January 26, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Nice butt kicking Obama!

Unlike Iowa, will Hillary have the class to congratulate Obama this time?...

Why does the media pretend they are not the ones fueling the issue of race in this contest? It's good copy and sells advertising...

Posted by: cjroses | January 26, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Don't miss the fact that, amongst young voters, Obama won more than half of the non-black vote.

Also 56% of ALL voters stated that Bill Clinton's comments affected their vote. Something tells me it wasn't to the Clintons' advantage.

KNOW HOPE!!!

Posted by: GordonsGirl | January 26, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

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