Number Crunching

These Maps of South Carolina Show How Closely Clinton 2016 Matches Obama 2008

Exit polls have her beating Bernie Sanders by a bigger margin among African-Americans than the one by which she lost that same group to Obama eight years ago.

Eight years ago, Hillary Clinton suffered the most staggering defeat of her first presidential campaign in South Carolina. The 28-point loss would not be her most lopsided of the season—she lost the Hawaii primary by 52 points and Idaho’s caucus by 63 points—but it was the first of the four early primary states where she saw the unusual coalition that Barack Obama had been able to array against her. Past Democratic contenders like Jesse Jackson and Bill Bradley had made moves to consolidate the black vote or the white-liberal vote, respectively, but never before had one been able to hold the two together in the same primary-season coalition.

SC-Map-08-vs-16
Andre Tartar/Bloomberg

Last night Clinton won a landslide victory in South Carolina, by an Obama-in-Hawaii (although not quite Obama-in-Idaho) margin. After winning only one South Carolina county in 2008—another was picked off by John Edwards, who had carried the state four years earlier—she swept all of them on Saturday, often inverting the previous score. In 21 counties where she got less than one-quarter of the vote in 2008, she claimed more than three-quarters this year. 

SC-Vote-Share (1)

Exit polls show she beat Bernie Sanders by a wider margin among black voters than the margin by which she lost that same group of voters to Obama.

Tomorrow, this campaign goes national,” Clinton declared in Columbia after her win. Having fused a base of white women and black voters of both genders, she has almost, but not quite, reassembled the Obama coalition. Sanders still won a majority of South Carolina voters under 30, although that split was far more even than in earlier states and smaller than Obama’s 2008 margin. (Sanders beat Clinton among young South Carolina voters by eight points; Obama did so by 43 points.) But Clinton has come closer than she ever did in 2008 to recreating the coalitions that carried Walter Mondale, Al Gore and John Kerry to their nominations—one that's likely enough to deny Sanders victories in all but the whitest and most liberal states. She is still missing one piece of the puzzle, though: white men, who gave 56 percent of their votes yesterday to Sanders. 

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