Marc Ambinder has some useful observations. Consider these three, for example:
5. The exit polls show that Bill Clinton did not help his wife not one bit in South Carolina and may have hurt her. Late deciders were driven to Obama by large margins.
6. Obama kept it competitive with white voters and brought tens of thousands of new voters and young voters into the process. His usual coalition -- younger folks, folks with college degrees -- expanded to include voters of all income levels. This is key to Feb. 5.
7. Whether the racial prism through which South Carolina was viewed was, in matter of fact, the fault of a concerted effort by the Clintons, the political establishment believes it to be so, and the Clintons face a huge perception problem.
And then there’s
this: as some have noted (gleefully or glumly), Obama received more votes than the top two Republicans in last week’s primary. To be sure, weather was a factor then, but there’s more chill in that number than the mere threat of snow. Here, by way of contrast, are the 2004 Democratic results. Back then, roughly 300,000 people voted; this time, Obama got almost that many votes by himself. In 2008, roughly 180,000 more people voted in the Democratic than in the Republican primary. In 2000, over 500,000 people voted in the Republican primary, but since the Democrats caucused that year, we shouldn’t read too much into that. The bottom line: the Democratic primary turnout wasn’t far off Kerry’s total vote in the 2004 general election, while the Republican result this time was almost 600,000 votes shy of GWB’s 2004 total in the state.
A simple-minded projection from the primaries to the general election suggests that South Carolina--a state Republicans have won comfortably in recent years--would be in play in 2008. Of course, there’s reason why we have campaigns with real candidates, not just projections of hypothetical candidates. But it’s fair to say that Republicans will need to generate far more enthusiasm and undeertake a GOTV operation of Rovian efficiency and effectiveness in order to have a shot at winning in November.