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Big Win for Obama in South Carolina

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 27, 2008 7:36PM

2008_1_Barack_Obama.jpgThe South Carolina Democratic primary could have been a footnote in this year's race to the nomination. The Clintons fought hard in South Carolina, hoping that Bill's popularity in the black community could divide the vote, giving an unexpected win to Hillary. By the time the exit polls indicated that Obama had carried the state by wide margins, the Clintons were dismissing Obama's win as a by-product of the racial demographics in this southern state, the "black candidate" that carried a mostly African-American electorate. But the large turnout yesterday (over half a million by some estimates) combined with Obama's strong showing among non-black voters give the freshman Senator from Illinois new momentum heading into the February 5 vote.

The Obama camp had been worried that a strong win in South Carolina could cast him as the "black candidate" - African-American voters make up 55 percent of the electorate - but exit polling indicated he held his own with the white vote, carrying about 25 percent. So Obama wins both the primary yesterday and finds himself with an ideal political situation. He leads Clinton in primary vote delegates by a 63 to 48 margin. Furthermore, his decisive win in the Palmetto State makes a stronger case that he can build a new Democratic coalition.

As the Democrats move forward to February 5, 22 states and arguably a national referendum on who will be the nominee, Obama, Edwards and Hillary Clinton face new challenges. For the Clintons, it's a question of when, and how hard to attack. For Obama, it's working to build a wider appeal among voters, while trying to stay above the fray of a nasty race. Democrats will be looking harder at which candidate can run a strong campaign against John McCain, a tough position for Clinton. For John Edwards, who has stayed in a strong third place throughout the primaries, it's how far his campaign can go, and what role he can play in the August convention.

Image via Barack Obama