Hillary Clinton is leading in polls ahead of Super Tuesday and coming off a resounding victory in South Carolina, putting her close to cementing her places as the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.
Clinton was leading polls by about 25 percentage points going into Saturday’s key primary. For political experts, it was a chance to see if Bernie Sanders had enough momentum to make it a close race, and whether Clinton could carry through on some of her key demographics — older voters and non-white voters.
Clinton carried both groups by huge margins, and also won over the demographics normally favoring Sanders en route to a 50-point victory. Hillary Clinton now leads polls in 12 of the contests for Super Tuesday, while Sanders hangs onto leads in a few states most favorable to him, including his home state of Vermont.
The polls show that Hillary Clinton outperformed her polls, nearly doubling the support pollsters had expected. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight predicted that Sanders would lose the race in South Carolina by about 20 points if it were truly a tied race nationally. In order to have a chance at winning the nomination he would need to out-perform these benchmarks, but instead Clinton has blown him away and he’s fallen well short of targets, Silver noted.
FiveThirtyEight noted that the road ahead is very difficult for Bernie Sanders.
“Sanders’s loss of momentum couldn’t have come at a worst time for his campaign. There are six Super Tuesday states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) where black voters made up a larger share of the electorate in 2008 than they did in Iowa, New Hampshire, or Nevada this year. That Sanders couldn’t break through with black voters in either Nevada or South Carolina, despite a heavy investment, makes it difficult to believe he will have any more success in these six states, where his campaign hasn’t put in the same effort.”
With big leads in the polls for upcoming states and the nomination in sight, Hillary Clinton is now starting to look forward to the general election in November.
“Tomorrow, this campaign goes national,” Clinton said in her victory speech on Saturday night (via CNN). “We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything and we are not taking anyone for granted.”
Hillary Clinton has also shifted from statements and attacks against her Democratic opponent to ones against Donald Trump, who himself appears cruising toward the nomination.
“We don’t need to make America great again — America has never stopped being great,” Clinton said in her victory speech, taking on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. “But we do need to make America whole again. Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers. We need to show by everything we do that we really are in this together.”
The win in South Carolina also showed the gameplan that Hillary Clinton will likely use against Donald Trump. She has continued to point out his divisive statements, a strategy that will be important given Trump’s huge unfavorable margins.
Vox pointed out the following.
“Trump, however, isn’t simply loathed among Democrats. He’s also disliked by independents, and he’s controversial even among Republicans. Forty-two percent of independents, and 24 percent of Republicans, have a very unfavorable view of Trump. The numbers for Rubio are 24 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
“Making Clinton’s job even easier is that Trump’s message is, itself, divisive — it’s soaked in racial resentment and xenophobia, and delivered through insults and angry rants. It’s also, crucially, understood by mediating institutions like the press to be a divisive message. Trump’s candidacy is (correctly) covered as an unusually ugly, rage-powered phenomenon.”
If Hillary Clinton can hang on through Super Tuesday and deliver on the margins that she appears to be leading by right now, then the only polls that will matter are general election polls showing her chances against Donald Trump.
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