Clinton wins big South Carolina primary

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. © Marvin Gentry
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic South Carolina primary against Senator Bernie Sanders by a massive margin. The victory comes just days before Super Tuesday, when 11 states will vote for the Democratic presidential nominee.

With over 95 percent of the votes counted, Clinton has defeated Sanders by a 48-point margin.

Early polls indicated that voters chose Clinton over Sanders by a 5-to-1 margin. Clinton reportedly received huge support from black voters, while Sanders did better with white voters.

South Carolina had an open primary, which meant that voters didn’t have to register as Democrats to have a say in the election. Polls were open from 7 am to 7 pm EST.

Six in ten voters casting their ballots in South Carolina’s primary election were black, AP reported, citing preliminary exit polls. The previous record for black voter turnout in the state was 55 percent in 2008.

Sanders congratulated Clinton on her win, but added that the battle for the Democratic nomination was only just beginning.

Let me be clear on one thing tonight. This campaign is just beginning. We won a decisive victory in New Hampshire. She won a decisive victory in South Carolina. Now it’s on to Super Tuesday,” Sanders said in a statement.

Bernie Sanders campaigner, Nina Turner, explained to RT why Sanders took such a beating in the South Carolina race.

“Had [Sanders] been running for president previously, his name ID, what he’s been standing for, fighting for, would be more well known. But, as we know, he is a senator from Vermont, the demographics there are not terrible mixed — it’s about a 95% white state… He has a lot of catching up to do… She [Clinton] has an advantage over Sanders when it comes to national ID, particularly in the African American community,” Turner said.

Clinton and Sanders had different approaches going into the primary, with Clinton more focused on this particular win, while Sanders took a broader outlook and focused on the March 1 races, giving a speech to about 10,000 people at a Formula One racetrack near Austin, Texas on Saturday. 

Clinton made a quick stop in Alabama on Saturday before returning to Columbia, South Carolina’s capital, for the victory party.

One of the voters explained why she chose Clinton over Sanders. “I don’t think Bernie has a shot in a national election, and this election is too important,” Alicia Newman told AP. “With all the debates, I think Bernie has helped prepare Hillary for November.”

Special education teacher Robert Bennett Terry voted for Bernie Sanders, explaining that the Vermont Senator’s policies are better suited for the children he educates in South Carolina.

“Bernie Sanders is certainly someone who will bring change to all the people who need change in this great nation of ours,” Terry told AP. “I want to send a message – a strong message – that in the Lowcountry here, many people are hurting. I see that each week. I work with kids in a Title 1 school and their families. They need a break. They need higher wages. They need to have a better life.”

The South Carolina primary holds some memories for Clinton. Eight years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama challenged then-Senator Hillary Clinton, the establishment-pick, and won big with the help of 78 percent of the black voters who cast their ballots. Clinton received only 19 percent of the black vote that day. Overall, Obama garnered twice as many votes as Clinton – 55.4 percent to 26.5 percent.

Today’s election is the fourth contest of the Democratic primaries. The first was a near-tie in Iowa, where neither Clinton nor Sanders managed to muster more than 50 percent of the vote. Sanders followed up with a smashing success in New Hampshire, capturing 60 percent of ballots, but then Clinton then went on to victory in Nevada, taking 52.6 percent to Sanders’s 47.3.

A win in South Carolina can easily influence states that are holding elections on Super Tuesday, including Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Clinton’s home state of Arkansas in the South, as well as Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Sanders’s home state of Vermont.

Clinton is looking to win big in Southern states with large black populations, while Sanders is likely to post victories in the Midwest and Northeast states.