Black voters in South Carolina are leaning toward Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York in the Democratic presidential race, according to a new Winthrop University-ETV poll, which also found that Fred Thompson is the only Republican stirring interest among black voters.
The poll found that 83 percent of blacks surveyed said they were more likely to vote in the Democratic primary Jan. 29 than in the GOP race Jan. 19. And 35 percent said they would vote for Obama if the election were held today, while 31 percent said they would vote for Clinton. About 29 percent said they remained undecided. Former Sen. John Edwards was chosen by only 3 percent.
Support for Obama was somewhat stronger among black males, while black females were split evenly between Obama and Clinton.
Only a fraction of black voters said they planned to vote in the Republican primary, and half of them remained undecided. About 20 percent of them said they would vote for former Sen. Thompson, who just got in the race.
Winthrop political science professor Scott Huffmon, who helped design the poll, said early in the campaigns black voters threw support to Clinton based on her husband's legacy, but that is beginning to change. "It may literally come down to whoever gets the African-American female vote," he said.
Asked whether Americans would be willing to vote for a black for president, 59 percent said yes, while 31 percent said no.
About 56 percent also said the national Democratic Party takes black voters for granted, and 53 percent said they felt the Republican Party is working to lure black voters. Almost 90 percent disapproved of President Bush's handling of the Iraq war, and 84 percent wanted a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from there.
The poll, conducted in late August and early September among 657 randomly selected black voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.