Update: CBS and CNN call it for Clinton. It was over before it started.
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Last weekend, on the heels of a decisive (if expected) victory for Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton reclaimed the momentum in the race for the Democratic nomination by escaping the Nevada caucuses with a narrow victory over the Vermont senator.
On Saturday, we’ll find out if Clinton can preserve the momentum in South Carolina, where she’s expected to win easily by riding a wave of support from the African American community. “In her last campaign, the state shattered Mrs. Clinton’s hopes and frayed the relationship she and Bill Clinton had with black voters, dealing Mr. Obama a 28-percentage-point victory and convincing the country that his appeal extended beyond the largely white, liberal electorate of Iowa,” The New York Times notes.
This time around, she’s playing from a position of strength and is effectively hoping to use her ties to the Obama administration to her advantage. Sanders has made a valiant effort in the state, running radio ads featuring Spike Lee and attending bringing rapper Killer Mike along for campaign stops.
But it likely won’t be enough. Instead of directors and actors, Clinton has campaigned with the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner and her support among the state’s African American community is unwavering (questions about her “super predator” comments ca. 1996 notwithstanding).
A Fox News poll out earlier this month showed Clinton leading "The Bern" by a 56-28 margin. As ABC notes, "Clinton will hope to follow in the footsteps of her husband, who won the state en route to his election in 1992, and use South Carolina as her own personal “firewall” against Sanders." Here's a rundown of the latest polls from RealClearPolitics:
The state saw record turnout in 2008 when Democratic voters cast 530,000 votes. Generally, a high turnout is a good thing for Sanders, but Clinton's overwhelming support among African Americans means Sanders has little chance. He won't be in the state on Saturday evening, but will instead travel to Minnesota for a rally. Earlier today, he was in Texas with planned stops in Austin and Dallas.
Clinton, by contrast, is "right at home" in the Palmetto state. In South Carolina, she's "the candidate she always wanted to be," to quote Politico.
"Gone are questions about her authenticity," Politico continues. "Here, black voters say Clinton’s history as a civil rights stalwart -- she first visited the state as a college grad investigating the problem of youths incarcerated in adult jails for the Children’s Defense Fund -- trumps any trust issues that dog her elsewhere."
“You look at South Carolina and we’re at the the bottom in anything you can thing of, educations, poverty. I think Hillary would be good because she’s gonna look out for us," said Al Tucker, a 67-year-old African American. "I don't think Bernie has a shot in a national election, and this election is too important," said Elementary school teacher Alicia Newman. "The next president is probably going to end up appointing the next judge on the Supreme Court. If Hillary is elected, she'll appoint a moderate or liberal judge to replace (Antonin) Scalia."
"I was at one point considering Bernie, but she really swayed me on the issues personally affecting me," said Markos Young, of suburban Columbia. "I would love tuition to be free, but how? Somebody has to pay for it. Where's that coming from?"
Asked if he'd given up on South Carolina, Sanders responded: "No, no, no, no."
But he probably should. “I am not familiar with him at all,” a Florence, South Carolina member of the local county council said on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the crowd was so large at a Florence event at which Hillary was speaking that Joyce T. Marshall and 50 other supporters were forced to listen outside on a speaker. “Hillary has done a lot for us, and her husband has done a lot for us,” she said.
Polls close at 7 p.m. EST.