Sticking with Zogby's poll as I have all week, here's the results of their final South Carolina tracking poll leading into today's primary, which show that Obama's final-days appeal directly to black voters has paid off.
Buoyed by widespread support among African American voters who are planning to participate in the Democratic Party primary here, Obama wins 41% support, compared to 26% for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and 19% for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Clinton and Edwards are splitting the support of white voters, who make up about half of the total Democratic electorate here.
While previous tracking polls have included three days of polling, this final release from South Carolina includes survey interviews conducted just on Thursday, Jan. 24, and Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. This latest telephone tracking survey included 816 interviews with likely Democratic voters and carries a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.
Obama holds solid leads in every section of the state, and among both men and women. He has big leads among voters under age 65. Interestingly, among voters over age 65, Clinton leads him by a few points only, and Edwards is doing well.
"We are making no predictions, but on the watch list is the order of finish here. Obama leads big among moderates and liberals and among all age groups. He is back over 60% support among blacks, while Clinton and Edwards are tied among whites. Clinton returned to the state after her numbers here started to slip and Edwards started to gain. After all, he is, like Bill Clinton, a son of the South.
Overall, Obama's lead is solid as Election Day dawns, but voters here have been fluid in their support.
I've seen figures elsewhere that suggest Obama holds 80% of the black vote in SC. With African-Americans comprising approximately 50% of the electorate in that state his 80% black vote gives him 40% of the overall electorate.
Even with a decisive victory in South Carolina, Mr. Obama could face new challenges. After nearly a year of avoiding the issue of race and running a campaign based on positive change, the Illinois senator has addressed the issue more directly in both his stump speeches and in TV ads that boast he was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review.
Being seen through a racial lens may diminish his chances in other states, especially those with fewer black voters, saysJulian Zelizer, a professor of contemporary American politics and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey. "Obama will need to regroup and think about his image leading into other primaries," Mr. Zelizer says.
In the past week, Mr. Obama's support among white Democrats fell in South Carolina to 10% from 20%, according to a McClatchy/MSNBC poll. Many of those voters switched their allegiance to South Carolina-born candidate John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator.
Mr. Obama addressed the question of race Thursday when he told reporters that his presidential campaign is "based on the idea that we're all in this together, and that black, white, Hispanic, Asian, all of us share common dreams, common fears, common concerns."
Obama needs to win South Carolina by a double-digit margin (at least 10%) in order to have scored a serious win. With the poll above showing him with a 15% lead over Clinton that kind of margin seems within his reach, but then New Hampshire seemed within his reach according to the polls there.
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