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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Obama Wins Big

Yesterday Barack Obama won the South Carolina Democratic primary, by an unexpectedly large margin. He was projected to win by 10%-15%, but the final tally was Obama 55%, Clinton 27%, and Edwards 18%, a 28% margin of victory for Obama.

It was a great night for Obama, because he won everything that he needed to, and more. The two big fears for the Obama camp were that he wouldn't win by "enough" (anything less than 10 points) or that he would do very poorly amongst white voters, and get pigeon-holed by the media as "the black candidate." He allayed both fears with his resounding vistory.

He won by greater than 2:1 over Sen. Clinton, twice what the polls were showing, and he did it once again by getting new voters to the polls. Young voters made up 14% of the turnout, compared with 5% in 2004. As for race, he won 24% of white voters, which was good enough to be described by Norah O'Donnel as a three way tie for white voters. His big margin came from winning 81% of black voters, which is a serious problem for Sen. Clinton.

We won't know yet what kind of effect this win will have on the race, but if Obama's team sat down on friday night and wrote a wishlist for what they wanted to happen, this probably would have surpassed it. If anything can give him the momentum he needs to go into Super Tuesday and come out stronger, this was it.

Furthermore, his victory speech was quite good. I always approach his speeches skeptically, because I can't imagine that every speech he gives is as good as it is inevitablly described, but I dare you to watch it and compare it to other contemporary politicians. They don't suffer the comparison well. Clinton, trying to minimize the significance of the primary, didn't even give a concession speech, and Edwards made the mistake of speaking after Obama. Edwards is a pretty good speaker, but his speech felt pretty flat after hearing Obama's.

My favorite part?
And as we leave this state with a new wind at our backs, and take this journey across the country we love with the message we've carried from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire; from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people in three simple words:

Yes. We. Can.

But anyway, I'm gushing. Watch it yourself.

I watched the returns from the Philly for Obama watch party, and it was a bit anti-climactic. The minute the polls closed, Obama was immediately the projected winner, as he had a 25% lead in the exit polls, which would require a miracle to be wrong enough for him to lose. As Edwards was trailing Clinton by 8-9 points all night for second, the only drama was whether Obama could stay over 50%. I didn't think he would, but then I have had an atrocious record of predicting results so far this year, and he finished with 55%.

The early projection did make for this funny image:
After 108 votes, he was already projected to win.

Anyway, this result improves his chances on Super Tuesday, and if Clinton and Obama both make it through Super Tuesday, Pennsylvania will begin to get really exciting. Between March 11th and our primary on April 22nd, there are NO OTHER DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES OR CAUCUSES! Thats 6 weeks of attention to decide the nomination. If you have a favorite candidate, they will want and appreciate your help!
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