By Joe Sims
Obama’s win in South Carolina was huge. The African American vote was decisive. But it wasn’t the only thing. Consider that in one South Carolina county which is almost three-fourths white, Hillary Clinton suffered a devastating defeat. CNBC wrote:
“In Greenville County, which has higher average income and a more educated populace than the statewide average and which is 78 percent white, Obama won by a resounding 22 percentage points, annihilating Clinton.”
Obama also won the under-thirty white vote, and received half the votes of white men under 30. CNBC also noted that while Senator Clinton received 44 percent of the vote from white women, Obama earned 22 percent of the vote from the same demographic. Not bad under the circumstances.
Unity, rather than division seems to be the most significant trend emerging in the primary elections.
Indeed the Illinois Senator’s vote has remained fairly consistent in the three primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, where he registered, 33, 36 and 34 percent respectively. In South Carolina, 24 percent voted for his line. Compare this to the 7 percent Jessie Jackson gathered in his last bid. Quite a shift for a Southern state.
However, sections of the media are stressing the opposite. This how the lead story in Youngtown Vindicator read: “Democrats head away from South Carolina on Sunday torn between two top candidates – and deeply divided along racial lines that could pull at their party through a long a bruising campaign.”
Note the stress on “torn” and “deeply divided.” Why these adjectives? Is it because Obama won such big majority of the Black vote? Does anyone recall similar strains after New Hampshire and Nevada, when Hillary Clinton won a majority of the white vote? 52 percent of the white vote was the total in Nevada. Why should the two votes be considered differently? Is it because African Americans are perceived to vote as a block based primarily on national pride and race? But is perception, the reality?
Congresman Clyburn responded to this double standard when he commented to CNBC:
"Four years ago Al Sharpton, a black guy, ran here and a white guy won … So what’s wrong with black people voting for a black guy? They voted for a white guy four years ago.”
He was referring of course to Edwards’ victory four years ago in his home state.
There’s little doubt that the huge Black turnout was in part prompted by a reaction to Bill Clinton’s brash and bruising campaigning. But rather than a disunifying agent, the overwhelming outpouring of African Americans for Obama was a mass vote for unity, a reaching out to all voters and saying “yes we can overcome the politics of division and disunity.” They were saying to voters across the country, “We heard the notes that were sounded when Obama won in Iowa and when his campaign neared victory in the other primaries. We hear you and we are here for you.”
Black voters in South Carolina were voting for unity, not only with whites who voted for Obama – a huge increase by Southern standards – but also those who voted for Clinton and Edwards.
Notwithstanding Obama’s small losing percentages in Nevada and New Hamphire, figures that can be counted on one hand, the main trend in the election seems to be one towards coalition building and unity, as opposed to the politics of division. “Torn” and “deeply divided” seems better aimed at the ruling class, which now seems to be trying to spin the elections results in a different direction.