US Elections: Clinton Looks For Big Victory In South Carolina
Hillary Clinton is hunkering down in South Carolina as she seeks a convincing win there Saturday that could catapult her to a big day on Super Tuesday.
Clinton leads Bernie Sanders in their race for the White House by 28 points in two separate polls taken Feb. 15–17 in South Carolina, suggesting she could deliver a convincing victory in the Palmetto State.
Coupled with her victory last weekend in Nevada’s caucuses, strategists close to the campaign say Clinton could all but lock up the nomination by mid-March if she does well on March 1, when 11 states and American Samoa hold Democratic contests.
“I think by mid-March, it’ll start to look real,” said one Democratic strategist with ties to the Clinton campaign. “She’ll have enough victories under her belt and the math will be on our side.”
No one expects Sanders to just disappear, however.
The Vermont Independent is a fundraising force who has vowed to take the fight with Clinton to the Democratic convention.
Sanders is focused on March 1 contests in Minnesota, Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia, where he campaigned on Tuesday.
“We can win here in Virginia if people come out to vote. Please come out to vote help us win,” the senator said at a rally in Norfolk.
But Clinton is leading in polls of 10 of the Super Tuesday states.
And while the former first lady campaigns in South Carolina, she’s deploying perhaps her strongest surrogate, former President Bill Clinton, to crucial Super Tuesday states.
On Wednesday, he plans to attend two Virginia organizing events in Alexandria and Richmond, days before the March 1 primary in the state.
Clinton’s campaign argues that it is focused on collecting delegates to inch closer to the 2,283 needed to clinch the nomination.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told CNN on Tuesday that the campaign is more focused on the increasing number of delegates than specific states and expects the delegate count to grow, something reflected in a memo he sent to reporters earlier this month.
“From a mathematic perspective, it’s clear why March is so important,” he said. “Voters in large states with large delegate allotments will cast their ballots. In total 1,875 delegates will be awarded in the first days of March, including 900 on Super Tuesday alone.”
While there are still “plenty of bumps in the road” for Clinton, Democratic strategist Jim Manley argued that “the math is daunting” for Sanders.
“He is going to have the money and enthusiasm necessary for him to continue for awhile, but if he doesn’t start picking up more delegates, he is destined to lose,” Manley said.
Another Democratic strategist, Doug Thornell, said Sanders “needs to close the gap in South Carolina to single digits and then somehow fight to a delegate draw on Super Tuesday.”
Clinton is focused almost exclusively on South Carolina this week, aside from a Friday pit stop in Atlanta to host a get-out-the-vote event.
Apart from that, she won’t be traveling to the Super Tuesday states until after Saturday’s primary.
She’s scheduled to hold as many as four rallies a day, and much of her effort is geared toward ensuring there is a strong turnout by African-Americans on Saturday.
On Tuesday, she held a campaign event in Florence, S.C., with the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Sandra Bland, three African-Americans killed in recent years.
The deaths of all three have been used as rallying cries by the Black Lives Matter movement. Martin was killed in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, while Garner died in New York City after a police officer put him in a chokehold. Bland was found hanged in a Texas jail cell.
In an event on Thursday in Columbia, S.C., she is set to appear with Sen. Cory Booker, the popular New Jersey senator who is particularly well-versed in social media.
The strategy sends the signal of South Carolina’s importance to Clinton. Her team wants a convincing victory that will be built on support from African-American voters.
“The African-American turnout for her in Nevada was amazing, and it will be key to her winning South Carolina and many of the Super Tuesday states as well,” Manley said.
Turnout will be particularly important to Clinton in the March states, but her allies feel her message on breaking barriers — appealing to minorities — has been resonating.
The former secretary of State had struggled with messaging for much of her campaign, with strategists complaining that she did not have a singular, focused message.
But one longtime adviser said the barriers message is “an uplifting and bridge-building notion that I think holds power not only in the primary process but in a general election.”
“The more divisive, anger-driven, revolutionary message of a Sanders, Trump or Cruz can get you an enthusiastic base of support and the attention of the media, but it doesn’t get you to a majority of votes,” the adviser said, referencing the top two GOP vote-getters, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.