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South Carolina Democratic Primary

So you already know that your humble Political Buzz correspondent was in South Carolina for the Democratic primary. My family lives in Hilton Head, and I did for the past three and a half years before returning to school in Philadelphia.

And I am proud of my state today.

500,000 Democratic voters turned out to have their voices heard, including 155,000 more African-American voters than in 2004. In South Carolina, the reddest of red states, the Democratic turnout was higher than the Republican.

The conventional wisdom this year is that Democrats are having a hard time choosing because they like all the candidates, while Republicans are having a hard time choosing because they don’t like any of them.

My completely unscientific personal research has borne this out. My parents, steadfast Republicans, went to the polls yesterday and pressed the button for Barack Obama.  As you read earlier this week, I spent some time with a former two-time Bush voter and lifelong Republican who changed his party affiliation and drove from Maryland to Iowa to South Carolina to campaign for Barack Obama.

South Carolina was allowed to move its primary earlier because it has a large African-American population. It is still the only state that flies the Confederate battle flag at the State Capitol, and a statue of virulent racist ex-governor Ben Tillman still stands amid controversy.

Is it any wonder that some of the voting was split along race lines?

Still, Hillary Clinton got 27% of the black vote—John Edwards got almost none. Obama won every category but white voters over 30, and even got 50% of the white male vote.

More importantly, Obama’s 55% of the popular vote gave him 25 delegates to Clinton’s 12 and Edwards’ 8. He is now firmly in the lead with delegates actually voted for, though Clinton still has more superdelegates pledged to support her. The actual count is 249 for Clinton, 167 for Obama and 58 for Edwards.

Obama has not lost a delegate race yet, though Clinton won the popular vote in New Hampshire and Nevada.

Edwards won the state in 2004 despite much of the media and conventional wisdom already proclaiming a Kerry sweep. One has to wonder what he’s still doing in the race other than hemorrhaging money. He’s a good candidate, and in many other years he’d be in charge. But as we’ve already learned, this is no ordinary presidential campaign.

It’s an exciting time to be a political writer. Super Tuesday may leave us with a winner—or it may not.

All eyes will be on Florida’s Republican primary. The Democratic Florida primary will also be a contest between Senator Clinton and “Uncommitted.”

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