As voting got under way Saturday in South Carolina's Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton hoped to draw on her support among black voters to secure a resounding victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders.
It would be an emotional boost for her White House campaign after an up-and-down start to the 2016 nominating contests. It's also a chance to wipe away the fraught memories of her 2008 primary loss in the state.
"The South Carolina primary is personally important to me because I want to send a strong signal that South Carolina is ready for change, ready for progress, ready to make a difference," Clinton said Friday during a rally in Columbia.
A victory here would also establish Clinton as the firm favorite among black voters, a crucial segment of the Democratic electorate, and set her up for a big delegate haul in next week's Super Tuesday contests in the South.
A Democratic candidate needs 2,383 delegates to win the nomination and the 11-state voting bonanza on March 1 accounts for 865 of those.
On the Republican side, voters will cast ballots in 11 states, with 595 delegates at stake.
Sanders knows his prospects with South Carolina's heavily black Democratic electorate are grim. A longtime lawmaker from Vermont, where just about 1 percent of the population is black, Sanders lacks Clinton's deep and longstanding connections to the African-American community. He's tried to broaden his economic inequality message and touch on issues such as incarceration rates and criminal justice reform, but he has still struggled to gain traction in South Carolina. His campaign hopes to
Rather than devote precious time to a state he's prepared to lose, Sanders spent much of the past week in areas that vote in March. Even on Friday, the last full day of campaigning before South Carolina's polls open, Sanders began with a rally in Minnesota before heading south for a pair of events. Sanders was planning to hold campaign rallies Saturday in Texas and Minnesota, two of the Super Tuesday states.
"We are fighting the fight for the survival of the working class of this country," Sanders said Friday morning at a rally in Hibbing, Minnesota.
Clinton was stopping in Alabama, another Super Tuesday state, on Saturday, before heading to the South Carolina capital, Columbia, for an election party.
In 2008, black voters made up 55 percent of the electorate in South Carolina's Democratic primary, according to exit polls. Clinton lost the state overwhelmingly to then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in a heated contest where her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was seen by some as questioning the legitimacy of the black presidential contender.
But South Carolina voters appear ready to forgive. The former president has been well-received by voters as he's traveled the state campaigning for his wife. Hillary Clinton also received the endorsement of South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the influential black lawmaker who stayed neutral in the 2008 primary, but was critical of the former president's comments.
"My heart had always been with Hillary Clinton, but my head had me in a neutral corner," Clyburn said as he announced his support for Clinton last week.
While Sanders has the money to stay in the race deep into the spring, Clinton's campaign sees an opportunity to build enough of a delegate lead to put the race out of reach in the coming weeks.
Clinton has a one-delegate edge over Sanders after her narrow win in Iowa, her sweeping loss in New Hampshire and a five-point victory in Nevada. She also has a massive lead over Sanders among superdelegates, the Democratic Party leaders who can throw their support behind a candidate of their choice, regardless of how their states vote.
Date created : 2016-02-27