Clinton Reaffirms Front-Runner Status With Big Primary Victory
Hillary Clinton has won the South Carolina Democratic primary by a wide margin, proving the strength of her diverse Southern firewall and restoring her position as the undisputed front-runner in her party’s race for the White House heading into Super Tuesday.
The victory is her strongest yet in the 2016 primary contest. She narrowly won the Iowa caucuses and was trounced by Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary. Clinton won the Nevada caucuses decisively earlier this week by five percentage points.
“We’ve now gone through four early states and I want to congratulate Sen. Sanders on running a great race,” Clinton said. “Tomorrow, this campaign goes national.”
She went on: “We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything and we’re not taking anyone for granted.”
With 25% of the expected vote in at 8:05 p.m. ET, Clinton was beating Sanders 76% to 23%.
Clinton’s win Saturday night was fueled by strong support from minority voters, giving her campaign a strong jolt heading into Super Tuesday when 11 states hold Democratic primaries or caucuses. She hopes to use those results to run up the delegate count against Sanders.
During her victory speech, she encouraged Americans to confront persistent racism.
“We also have to face the reality of systemic racism that, more than half a century after Rosa Parks sat, and Dr. King marched and John Lewis bled, still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind,” she said.
She also took a clear swipe at Donald Trump, who is dominating the Republican presidential race with his campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.”
“Despite what you hear, we don’t need to make America great again. America has never stopped being great,” she said. “But we do need to make America whole again. Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers.”
Exit polls indicate Clinton holds a massive lead over Sanders among African-Americans who voted on Saturday, winning the support of more than 80% of the demographic. Sanders, meanwhile, tops Clinton by a roughly 60%-40% margin among white voters.
For his part, Sanders is looking ahead from South Carolina and didn’t spend the day in South Carolina. He was in Texas earlier Saturday and will hold an event in Minnesota this evening.
In a statement, Sanders congratulated Clinton on her win but made clear that South Carolina is only one contest in a race he hinted would go on for a long time.
“Let me be clear on one thing tonight. This campaign is just beginning,” Sanders said. “We won a decisive victory in New Hampshire. She won a decisive victory in South Carolina. Now it’s on to Super Tuesday.”
He added: “Our grassroots political revolution is growing state by state, and we won’t stop now.”