COLUMBIA, S.C. - NBC News declared Sen. Barack Obama as the projected winner in South Carolina's Democratic primary.
Obama won South Carolina by a substantial margin, with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in second and John Edwards third, NBC reported.
Obama was projected to rout Clinton in the racially charged primary, regaining campaign momentum in the prelude to a Feb. 5 coast-to-coast competition for more than 1,600 Democratic National Convention delegates.
A third-place finish for Edwards would come as a sharp setback in the state where he was born and scored a primary victory in his first presidential campaign four years ago.
Landslide margins among black voters fueled Obama's lead, allowing him to overcome the edge that Clinton and Edwards had among whites in the state. Black women turned out in particularly large numbers. Obama, the first-term Illinois senator, got a quarter of the white vote while Clinton and Edwards split the rest.
The victory was Obama's first since he won the kickoff Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3. Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, scored an upset in the New Hampshire primary a few days later. They split the Nevada caucuses, she winning the turnout race, he gaining a one-delegate margin. In an historic race, she hopes to become the first woman to occupy the White House, and Obama is the strongest black contender in history.
The South Carolina primary marked the end of the first phase of the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, a series of single-state contests that winnowed the field, conferred co-front-runner status on Clinton and Obama but had relatively few delegates at stake.
THIS Democratic Primary Voter would now like to see less talk about personal issues, and more talk about substantive issues. The media be damned--if this doesn't send a wakeup call to all camps that they better leave the mudslinging behind and start talking about issues that matter to voters, the end result is going to be a further fracturing of the Democratic Party.
One thing I do not want to see is the 50 state strategy thrown under the bus. Today showed that a whole lot of voters in a red state are willing to come out and vote for a Democrat. Is anyone paying attention?
They'd better be.
UPDATE I - PALE RIDER
Tonight, Obama got almost 300,000 votes. In a "red" state.
Last week, McCain and Huckabee combined got less than that.