Thursday, February 14, 2008

Obama Trounces Clinton in South Carolina

Sen. Barack Obama's landslide victory in South Carolina increased his momentum on the road toward the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama nearly doubled the votes of Sen. Clinton, and received a stunning 81 percent of the African American vote, according to CNN exit polls.

The pundits would like to attribute this amazing victory to racial divides; however, the numbers do not reflect that assertion. Obama also won 25 percent of the white vote in South Carolina, which reinforces my belief that he is the only candidate at this moment that can build a new Democratic coalition, and a working majority.

One must ask, why did Clinton severely lose the African-American vote to Barack Obama? (In my own words, who did she piss off?) Several polls leading up to the South Carolina primary reflected Clinton's double digit lead over Obama in the African American community. I never understood it, but that's what the polls said.

I am aware of the African American community's love for Bill Clinton and what they perceive him to have done for our community while in office. This was evident when Toni Morrison coined him "the first African American president" years ago. No one could deny how the African American community embraced the former president.

In all fairness I must say that Ms. Morrison has since come to her senses, and has endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States. (To read more about Obama's endorsements, click here to read our endorsement post.)

The pundits, and much of America, has attributed Senator Clinton's embarassing loss of the African American community to the actions, specifically "the tongue" of her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton earlier in the day of the SC primary evoked the Rev. Jesse Jackson's South Carolina wins in 1984 and 1988 when talking to a reporter about Obama, to somehow downplay the significance of Obama winning a state like South Carolina.

The results of the South Carolina primary offered a sharp rebuke to former President Bill Clinton, who campaigned hard for his wife across South Carolina, attacking her rival's record with a vigor new to the campaign. Bill Clinton saw himself transformed from a Democratic favorite, to a polarizing attack dog. He was booed by Obama supporters when his image came onto the screen at Obama's victory party in Columbia, S.C. Approximately 6 out of 10 voters said Bill Clinton's campaigning was important in how they decided to vote — and only 37 percent of those supported his wife, according to the CNN exit polls."

"This was a strong repudiation of the tactics that were employed here," Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, said after the television networks called the primary for Obama moments after polls closed at 7 p.m. But Obama — who had been punished by the press after losing amid high expectations in Nevada and New Hampshire — triumphed over low expectations set by recent polls, which suggested he could get as little as 10 percent of the white vote — putting him in Jackson's range.

In his victory speech, Obama made the case that his performance in early states proves his ability to unite the country. "We have the most votes, the most delegates and the most diverse coalition of Americans that we've seen in a long, long time," he said, as the crowd chanted, "Race doesn't matter."


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