South Carolina

Primary Talk
January 30, 2008

While it's hard to track public opinion shifts sans polls, Michael Sean Winters at America: The National Catholic Weekly has a glimpse of the talk among elite Democratic Washington: I went to dinner with three friends last night in Bethesda, just outside Washington. We began talking about the Democratic primaries and about how disgusted we were with the Clintons' campaign tactics, especially Bill Clinton's dismissive equation of Obama's South Carolina victory with Jesse Jackson's wins there in 1984 and 1988. ... Then something funny happened.

Are Edwards Voters Obama Voters?
January 30, 2008

Who will get John Edwards's votes? The exit polls give a split verdict. Those in Iowa and South Carolina show a slight tilt to Hillary Clinton. If you look at those voters among whom Edwards enjoyed disproportionate strength, it was among voters less likely to switch to Obama. In Iowa, it was among older (60-64 years old) and conservative voters.

Did Obama Do Much Better In Sc Than Nevada?
January 27, 2008

A couple of commenters have pointed out that Obama's demographic coalition in South Carolina wasn't much more impressive than his coalition in Nevada, where he lost to Clinton by about six points last week. There's something to this: Obama won a roughly comparable share of white and black voters in both states (at least once you factor in Edwards's improved performance in South Carolina). The big difference was that Hispanics made up a large bloc of voters in Nevada, and he lost them overwhelmingly, while African Americans made up more than half the electorate in South Carolina.

The Take-away From South Carolina
January 26, 2008

What you need to know about tonight's results: 1.) Obama took nearly 80 percent of the black vote, yes, but also about a quarter of the white vote. That stacks up pretty well alongside Hillary's 36 percent and Edwards's 40***--well enough that Nora O'Donnell of MSNBC could call it "almost a three-way split," and The New York Times could proclaim that a "coalition of white and black support" powered Obama's victory. This is a huge development going forward.

Obama And The Undecideds In South Carolina
January 26, 2008

One other quick thought about the South Carolina polling: Depending on which poll you consult, there were still a decent number of undecided voters heading into today. It's hard to discern a pattern among undecideds in automated polls versus live-interview polls (see my previous item for why this would matter). But, when I peruse the recent polls, my murky, impressionistic conclusion is that there seems to be a slightly higher percentage of black undecideds than white undecideds. Is there anything we can say about how that might play out? Probably not.

Obama Will Over-perform Among Black Voters--trust Me
January 26, 2008

Mark Blumenthal picks up on something interesting in the South Carolina polls: [Obama] leads Clinton by an average of 17 points on the IVR [i.e., automated] polls (44% to 27%, with 19% for Edwards), but by only 9 points on the interviewer surveys (37% to 28%, with 17% for Edwards). Then, while discussing the Bradley Effect--in which some white voters tell pollsters they're going to vote for a black candidate but don't--he offers the following explanation: One thing to note is that the so-called "Bradley/Wilder effect" ...

White Evangelicals For Obama?
January 24, 2008

I've suggested that one way for Obama to get a big boost out of South Carolina would be to exceed expectations among white voters. One way for Obama to do that might be to aggressively court white evangelicals, of which I'm guessing there are many in South Carolina. (How many will vote in Saturday's Democratic primary is another question, but they certainly exist...) Obama himself is longtime churchgoer who talks a lot about the role of faith in politics. And, if you've followed some of his recent moves, it looks like he might be thinking the same thing.

A Key Newspaper Endorsement For Obama
January 22, 2008

Whatever you think of Obama's performance in last night's debate, his just-announced endorsement by The State, South Carolina's largest newspaper, could end up being just as influential if not more so in Saturday's primary. You can read the whole thing here. This passage is particularly interesting: On positions from Iraq to health care, the policy differences between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama are minute. Much of the debate between them has involved making these molehills look mountainous or clashing over who-shifted-when.

Watch The White Vote In South Carolina
January 21, 2008

One thing to keep an eye on as we head toward South Carolina is Barack Obama's share of the white vote there. It's a key number for three reasons. First, Obama should do well enough among African Americans that if he can win close to, say, 30 percent of white voters, he'll win by a significant margin overall. Second, Obama wants his victory to be as broad-based as possible to show he'll be formidable in states without large African American populations.

Mccain's Not On Such Solid Ground
January 20, 2008

  A couple of things to think about when considering whether McCain's poised to run away with the GOP nomination: 1. Yes, McCain won last night in South Carolina, but it wasn't a huge victory -- 33% to 30%. A higher-than-expected showing for ole Fred -- 16%, where he was polling 11-12% in the days beforehand -- can account for a lot of Huckabee's deficit. I don't see McCain's Southern win as so resounding that it proves rank-and-file conservatives are ready to back him en masse. 2. A big, and unique, factor in McCain's win was South Carolina's own psychodrama with him.