Exit Polls in South Carolina Point to Importance of Economy, Dirty Politics

| Sat Jan. 26, 2008 7:18 PM EST

The AP has some exit polling out. Let's take a look at what it says about the South Carolina electorate.

Half of voters cited the economy as the most important issue. Twenty-five percent said health care and 20 percent said Iraq. Those were the only choices, however, which skews the numbers pretty badly. When Mother Jones runs its own exit polls, we'll do it better.

One out of four exit poll respondents said America is not ready for a black president. The same number said America is not ready for a woman president. So... South Carolina isn't completely on board the diversity train yet.

People were really not happy with the candidates. According to exit polls from MSNBC, 70 percent of all voters thought Hillary Clinton unfairly attacked Barack Obama. Fifty-six percent thought Barack Obama unfairly attacked Hillary Clinton. And voters of all stripes were unhappy with the Clintons: 75 percent of black voters thought they played dirty, 68 percent of white voters said the same.

Many pundits are assuming Barack Obama will win this handily—the only question is by how much. Have we learned nothing from New Hampshire? No assumptions. Anyone could win this primary tonight. Besides, will it kill us to wait another few hours to find out for sure?

Here's a more worthwhile question: how much of the white vote can Barack Obama win? He won very, very substantial portions of the white vote in Iowa and New Hampshire. Some polls in SC show him winning just 10 percent. If that's actually the case, Clinton's strategy of, well, reminding everyone that Obama is black (over and over) has worked.

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