CHARLESTON, S.C. – In the South Carolina Democratic Party presidential primary held here yesterday, voters chose Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders by a landslide. Clinton received 73.5 percent of the votes; Sanders got 26.
Sixty-two percent of the voters were African American. Eighty-four percent cast ballots for Clinton. Among white voters, Sanders lost by 53 to 47 percent.
In 2008, Clinton lost the South Carolina primary vote to Barack Obama 55 percent to 26 percent. Yesterday, 74 percent of all voters said they wanted a presidential candidate who would continue Obama’s policies. Eight-one percent of those voters chose Clinton.
Sanders carried the 17 percent of voters who said they want the next president to be more liberal than Obama.
Including her win in South Carolina, Clinton now has a total of 544 delegates pledged to vote for her at the Democratic National Convention this coming July. Of that, 453 are “super delegates” who are free to change their minds at any time. Sanders has a total of 85 delegates, including 20 super delegates. It will take 2,383 delegates to win the presidential nomination.
Eight hundred sixty-five delegates will be up for grabs this coming Tuesday, March 1, when 16 states hold primaries.
Making Hillary “a better candidate.”
Over the past several months both Clinton and Sanders crisscrossed South Carolina to meet with African-American ministers, political leaders and students.
Three years ago Sanders met with Donna DeWitt, then-president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO. She says “he wanted to better understand why so many low income white workers vote against their own self-interest.”
Only 2.1 percent of all workers in South Carolina belong to unions, making it the state with the lowest percentage of organized workers.
Forty-nine percent of the voters in the Democratic primary said they are “moderate to conservative.”
Jim Clyburn, South Carolina’s only Democratic U.S. representative and a leading member of the Congressional Black Caucus, endorsed Clinton. He wrote in a widely read op-ed that “Hillary … [has] concrete plans” for dealing with problems faced by communities of color in South Carolina.
“Our state,” he wrote, “is still scarred with too many pockets of poverty … . In rural areas many poor and minority residents have been neglected for decades and are struggling against nearly impossible odds trying to pull themselves out of poverty.”
Clyburn’s endorsement concluded by stating that “Hillary Clinton is a fighter, and she’ll keep fighting for what’s right. With her in the White House, my spouse, daughters and granddaughters will have a reason to be proud, and so will yours.”
The Clinton and Sanders South Carolina campaigns were noticeably free of negative attacks against each other.
In her victory speech, Clinton echoed many of the positions being taken by Sanders.
She pledged that if elected president she would take action against corporations that “rip off their employees” or “go oversees to avoid taxes.” She blasted prescription drug companies that “out of greed … triple their prices.”
She also said that “no bank is too big to fail and no executive is too big to jail.
“Together,” she said, “we can break down all the barriers holding our families and our country back.”
TV commentator Bakari Sellers, a well-respected former member of South Carolina’s House of Representatives, campaigned for Clinton, writing that “My vote goes to someone who supports President Obama and intends to wholly and ambitiously build on his legacy.”
However, he also wrote that “Bernie Sanders means well, and his calls for income equality rightly resonate with Democratic voters.”
Moreover, while reporting the results of the primary on CNN, Sellers said that “Sanders has made Clinton a much better candidate.”
He added, “We will need every part of the Democratic Party to come out against hate” in the November general election.
Photo: Hillary Clinton. Pat Sullivan | AP