Sunday :: Jan 27, 2008

Postscript on South Carolina

by eriposte

UPDATE: This post has been updated - in particular, the conclusions have been corrected.

Congratulations to Sen. Obama on a great win in South Carolina! Once again, I was impressed by the turnout and can't wait to see the turnout in upcoming states.

That said, if the exit poll results are correct, then, outside of the significant increase in African American turnout compared to 2004 that benefited Sen. Obama, the significance of the South Carolina race is quite different from what is being portrayed in the media.

Let me explain what I mean using two charts - showing the percentages of white and black voters who voted for each of the top three candidates in Iowa (IA), New Hampshire (NH), Nevada (NV) and South Carolina (SC), according to the NBC exit polls for IA, NH, NV and SC. (The percentage of black voters supporting each candidate is not available in the NH data - so that data point is not shown in the charts. Additionally, I excluded Michigan because Obama and Edwards were not on the ballot in Michigan).

Let's see the charts first and then I will provide a summary of my observations below the charts.

The Black Vote


The White Vote



If the exit poll data from NBC is correct, then, the following conclusions are reasonable:

Black Vote

  • Sen. Obama increased his share of the Black vote going from IA to NV (no surprise given that IA gave him a big boost), but he actually lost some share of the Black vote to Sen. Clinton in South Carolina he might have gotten a lower share of the Black vote in SC than in NV, with Sen. Clinton getting a larger % of the Black vote in SC compared to NV. This is of course subject to the fact that there is a margin of error in these polls and it could be that the differences are a wash. However, this does raise the question as to whether This suggests that Bill Clinton's pitch to Black voters in SC did significantly hurt Sen. Clinton or possibly even helped her slightly. might have indeed convinced some Black voters to switch to Sen. Clinton, from Sen. Obama. [CONCLUSION corrected to factor in uncertainties].
  • Sen. Edwards and the other candidates essentially lost their share of the Black vote - primarily to Sen. Obama - after IA and their share of the Black vote has not changed meaningfully since then.

White Vote

  • Sen. Obama's share of the White vote had been relatively stable from IA to NH to NV, but he lost a noticeable share of the White vote in SC to Sen. Edwards.
  • Sen. Clinton had been significantly growing her share of the White vote - partially from other candidates who have left the race but particularly at the expense of Sen. Edwards - going from IA to NH to NV. However, in SC, like Sen. Obama, she lost a chunk of the white vote to Sen. Edwards.

In a nutshell, then [corrections added to reflect uncertainties]:

  • Sen. Obama actually underperformed both on the white vote (significantly) - and it is possible he might have also underperformed on the black vote (by a small amount, although within MoE this may be a wash) - in South Carolina compared to Nevada. Hence, his impressive margin of victory over Sen. Clinton was largely because of the huge Black turnout.
  • Sen. Clinton actually appears to might have slightly gained some share of the Black vote from Sen. Obama, going from NV to SC (or it may have been a wash within MoE). This raises the question as to whether - suggesting that contrary to the almost always wrong press corpse, Bill Clinton actually hurt her cause in SC or likely helped her in SC with black voters. However, she lost a chunk of the White vote to Sen. Edwards in SC. I suspect this is because she decided to not really compete in SC and focused much of the campaign activity in SC on wooing Black voters.
  • The most understated story in SC is that of Sen. Edwards. He held his miniscule share of the Black vote but grabbed significant chunks of the White vote from both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama in SC. Why? I don't know but it may have been due to his debate performance as well as the ad he ran in SC using his debate performance. To me, this is really the second biggest story out of SC.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming with the Nail Bill Clinton (NBC) network.

eriposte :: 5:25 PM :: Comments (23) :: Digg It!