US primaries #10: Clinton’s South Carolina victory

by Jackie_South on February 28, 2016

South Carolina iconHillary Clinton’s emphatic victory in South Carolina removes any doubts that she will be nominated

We predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the South Carolina primary with some ease. But we expected a victory on the scale of the two-to-one basis indicated by the polls – in the end the victory was closer to three-to-one. After an unexpectedly tight win in Iowa, losing in New Hampshire and a 5.5% lead in Nevada, this was the big victory that the Clinton team needed to set themselves up well for Super Tuesday.

SC Dem pie 2016

Bernie Sanders has been trying to put a brave face on it, saying that the race is still on and that this merely matches his big win in New Hampshire. But his win in the Granite State was by 22%, Clinton’s was by 48%. South Carolina is far bigger than New Hampshire: Clinton won 39 delegates in the former, Sanders 15 in the latter. And there are more states like South Carolina than New Hampshire in the contests to come, in particular in Super Tuesday.

Clinton won in every county, among men and women, black and white. rich and poor, degree-educated and not. Sanders won among the under 24s by 60-40%, but they only comprised 7% of the voters. Every older group voted for Clinton, and every age group over 30 gave her at least 70% of the vote.

SC 2016 Dem result map
Sanders also won among white men, but these were only 14% of voters. Only 35% of voters were white, and 61% of all voters were women. The demographics of who voted heavily favoured Clinton. The map of Clinton victories mirrors that of the proportion of African American voters by county, taken from 2014 data.

SC African American map

In previous primaries, Sanders did better in lower income groups than in higher ones. But with the prevalence of non-white voters in the Palmetto State, that was reversed: Clinton  won 81% of the votes of those earning less than $30,000 a year.

In my last post, I hypothesised that Sanders would do best in counties with larger numbers of whites and liberals. I was half right: race played a factor, but ideology did not. The county that I thought might work for him – Charleston – voted for Clinton by two-to-one. It was in fact the very conservative, and un-coincidently overwhelmingly white counties of Upstate South Carolina that where he did best.

SC Dem primary regions 2016

This huge victory for Clinton is well-timed. This Tuesday is Super Tuesday, the date when most states and more delegates are up for grabs than on any other date in the primary calendar. It is also an overwhelmingly southern contest: 865 delegates are up for grabs of which 609 are in the South.

Super Tuesday will look a lot more like South Carolina than New Hampshire.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

George_East February 28, 2016 at 7:16 pm

Surely, barring scandal or the like, Clinton is now the candidate-elect? I can’t see that Bernie has any plausible route.

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