Now it’s the Democrats’ turn to dance on South Carolina’s political stage. Here’s what to keep an eye on.
1) Will Nevada change the game here?
Neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders mentioned coming to South Carolina Saturday night in the moments after Clinton bested Sanders in Nevada.
Clinton has held a big lead here since polling began, and Sanders’ second place showing in Nevada could prompt him to focus more on the 11 other states up for grabs on March 1, or the three others on March 5.
2) Will the black vote rally around Clinton?
One reason that Clinton has dominated the polls here is her support in the black community, which accounts for about half of the state’s Democratic electorate and strongly favors her. The state’s white Democrats are split, polls show.
Scott Buchanan, a Citadel political science professor, said Clinton needs to chalk up her biggest victory to date in South Carolina. “If she wins by as few as 10 percentage points, as wild as this sounds, it’s not good for her in other states,” he said. “If she gets down into a single-digit victory, it’s a sign of real trouble.”
3) How much will Clyburn help?
Clinton scored a coup last week when the state’s most influential Democrat, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, threw his support her way.
Charleston County Democratic Chairman Brady Quirk-Garvan said he’ll be watching to see how active Clyburn works on her behalf. “The question will be: How will they (the Clinton campaign) utilize him?”
4) Will there be a memorable moment?
Clinton and Sanders aren’t scheduled to debate again until next month, after South Carolina’s primary, but it’s still possible that there will be an exchange or sound bite that will dominate the news. Both candidates are expected to participate in a CNN Town Hall in Columbia Tuesday — an event that will give each candidate almost an hour to make their case to voters on national TV.
5) How many will vote?
Eight years ago, 532,151 South Carolina voters took part in the Democratic primary — almost 24 percent of all registered voters at that time.
But that turnout was driven partly by the historic nature of the race, where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton vied to be the first black or woman to become the first such nominee of a major political party. Few expect a record Saturday, but the actual number will speak to the state party’s health.
“I do think 2008 was a different year and probably had some of the highest turnout that we’ll potentially ever see,” Quirk-Garvan said. “I think we’ll have a good and solid turnout.”
Reach Robert Behre at (843) 937-5771 or at twitter.com/RobertFBehre.