COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – South Carolina Democrats now get their say. For Hillary Clinton, the South Carolina presidential primary is a chance to not just win, but win big.
Voters go to the polls on Saturday to choose a Democratic presidential nominee just a week after the state’s GOP presidential primary. The polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Most polls indicate Hillary Clinton has a sizeable lead heading into the primary, but she wasn’t taking any chances.
She has appeared frequently around the state in recent days, including a number of appearances before audiences of predominantly black voters among whom she is expected to do better than rival Bernie Sanders. Former President Bill Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea, also campaigned in South Carolina.
After an up-and-down start to the 2016 presidential contests for Clinton, a sizable victory over Bernie Sanders on Saturday would be an emotional boost for her White House campaign and a chance to wipe away the fraught memories of her 2008 primary loss in the state.
It would also establish Clinton as the firm favorite among black voters, a crucial segment of the Democratic electorate, and set her up for a big delegate haul in next week’s Super Tuesday contests in the South.
“The South Carolina primary is personally important to me because I want to send a strong signal that South Carolina is ready for change, ready for progress, ready to make a difference,” Clinton said Friday during a rally in Columbia.
Sanders knows his prospects with South Carolina’s heavily black Democratic electorate are grim. A longtime lawmaker from Vermont, where just about 1 percent of the population is black, Sanders lacks Clinton’s deep and longstanding connections to the African-American community. He’s tried to broaden his economic inequality message and touch on issues such as incarceration rates and criminal justice reform, but he has still struggled to gain traction in South Carolina.
Rather than devote precious time to a state he’s prepared to lose, Sanders spent much of the past week in areas that vote in March. Even on Friday, the last full day of campaigning before South Carolina’s polls open, Sanders began with a rally in Minnesota before heading south for a pair of events.
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