According to several media outlets, including MSN and CNN, Illinois Senator Barak Obama has won the South Carolina democratic primary.
Barack Obama needed a strong showing to propel his campaign into Super Tuesday and beyond. After Clinton won New Hampshire and Nevada, a win in South Carolina was all but necessary to ensure that Obama was still in contention with the Senator from New York.
Obama is said to have won by a large margin on Saturday, with Clinton coming in second and Edwards third. With 98% of the precincts reporting, Obama pulled in about 55% of the vote. Clinton got 27% and John Edwards came in with just 18% and only won his home county of Oconee. These numbers were staggeringly different from the polls, which showed Obama in the lead with only 38% instead of the whopping 55% he received on Saturday.
Obama’s win on Saturday shows that he will have a very high turnout of voters for him in states with a large African-American population, and this is really the first showing of his large popularity in these states. This win is a good sign for Obama, especially with the crucial Super Tuesday coming up on February 5th.
According to exit polling conducted on Saturday, half of the voters said that they felt the economy was the biggest issue facing the country today. That comes as no surprise, especially because of the increased reporting on the country’s economic status in the last few weeks and months.
The next biggest issue among voters was health care. 25 % of the voters picked this as their main concern. Only 1 in 5 voters said the war in Iraq was their main issue, detailing how the once main concern has been fading behind the concerns of the economy.
About half of the voters interviewed said that former president Bill Clinton’s campaigning for his wife had some bearing on their vote, whether for good or for bad. Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International conducted the exit polls.
All of the last minute campaigning by Obama and Clinton does not seem to have done as much to change the minds of South Carolinian voters as it did in 2004. According to CNN, of those who voted on Saturday, over half of them had already made up their minds more than a month ago. This is almost double the amount that it was in 2004.
Another 10 percent of the voters said that they had made up their mind over three days ago and 32 percent made their mind up in the last month, with only 10 percent deciding in the last few days.
Obama and Edwards are expected to make speeches from South Carolina tonight after the results are final. Senator Clinton has already flown to Tennessee, a state which holds a primary on Super Tuesday, and it is not known whether she will speak or not.