The South Carolina Blowout

Analysts will spend the next few days sorting through the exit poll data, checking "crosstabs" to determine how and why Barack Obama managed to lap Hillary Clinton, beating her by 28 points, 55% to 27% in South Carolina’s primary. But, three facts stand out. Hillary Clinton lost the female vote. 61% of the voters in South Carolina were women and Barack won them by 54% to 30%. Part of the reason has to do with the way black women voted, but surely part of it has to do with the prominent role Bill Clinton assumed in South Carolina. Many conservative Democrats do not relish the prospect of Bill back in the White House with nothing to do all day. Seriously, many conservative voters have never forgiven Bill for risking his presidency and his marriage for a self-indulgent affair. Conservative commentator Bill Bennett is not the only person who wishes the Clintons would just leave. 58% of the South Carolina electorate said that Bill Clinton’s campaigning was important to their decision, and they did not view that import with favor, backing Barack by 48% to 37%. Look for Bill to be less prominent going forward. Similarly, Barack trounced Clinton among church-goers. Voters who said they attended church at least weekly broke for Barack by a margin of 58% to 27%. Those who attend church occasionally favored him by a smaller margin, 50% to 28%. And voters who said they "never" attend church supported Hillary with 38% of the vote to Barack’s 31%. Like Independent voters, church-goers represent a group among whom Democrats need to perform better than in years past. For those considering the candidates’ prospects in November, this is the most important number from the South Carolina polls, and it favors Barack’s campaign enormously. But, the greatest news, not for any one campaign but as far as the future of the nation is concerned, had to do with white voters under the age of 30. Barack took 52% of their votes. There is no way of knowing if enough under-30s will turn out on February 5 to move any states into Barack’s column. But, whether Barack wins or loses, the fact that 50% of white young people in South Carolina crossed the racial divide to vote for him means that the divide is, for them, much lower and less treacherous than it was for their parents’ generation. The most intractable issue in the history of America – race – has become a whole let less intractable in the past few decades. Whether it will be enough for Barack to win, we do not know. But, last night, Barack and the rest of America saw the promised land. Michael Sean Winters
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Ten priests at the conclusion of their ordination Mass on May 27, 2017, at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minn. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)
New data shows the average age of a new priest at 33; the most common countries for foreign-born ordinands are Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines and Colombia.
J.D. Long-GarcíaApril 20, 2018
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the congregation during the ceremonial Mass on May 17, 2017, at Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal for the city's 375th birthday celebrations. (CNS photo/Dario Ayala, Reuters)
The complications of Canadian Catholicism came into sharp relief when Justin Trudeau, a Catholic politician and leader of the popular Liberal Party, became prime minister in October 2015.
Dean DettloffApril 20, 2018
About two-thirds of people born in the United States live in their own homes. Immigrants also have a strong record of homeownership: About half of the 42.3 million foreign-born people in our nation live in their own homes.
Hosffman OspinoApril 20, 2018
Unless we are willing to admit that, then the situation will only get worse.
Matt Malone, S.J.April 20, 2018