Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the party’s South Carolina primary on Saturday with what is expected to be her biggest margin yet.
Clinton secured her victory by appealing to the largely-black electorate in the Palmetto state. The South Carolina Election Commission reported that 71 percent of the state’s early voters were black, and early exit polls put that number at 61 percent of voters Saturday.
In the days leading up to the primary, both candidates touted endorsements from black leaders. Clinton took to the campaign trail with the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Jordan Davis, Dontre Hamilton, and Eric Garner, who said they believe Clinton is the best candidate to addres issues with guns, policing, and criminal justice in the United States.
Critics pointed to her controversial history when it comes to incarceration and welfare, but the mothers argued that her support for the 1994 crime bill should not stop voters from supporting Clinton today.
“I want everyone to know that we’re not looking at what Bill did,” Geneva Reed-Veal, Sandra Bland’s mother, told ThinkProgress last week. “We’re not looking at his campaign, so we’re not judging her based on what he did. Let’s give her her own shot. We’re supporting her solely based on her own merits, not what she did as First Lady.”
Clinton’s campaign also held events with civil rights attorneys, like Billy Murphy, the attorney for Freddie Gray’s family and for the residents of Flint, Michigan who are suing the city. Sanders, meanwhile, campaigned with former NAACP president Ben Jealous, Eric Garner’s daughter, and other prominent civil rights leaders like the attorney for Walter Scott’s family.
But the South Carolina black community’s longstanding support for the Clinton family ultimately prevailed. The win is also a significant comeback for Clinton, who lost to President Obama in South Carolina in 2008 by 28 points. According to ABC News’ exit polls, 70 percent of voters this year said the next president should continue Obama’s policies rather than change to more or less liberal policies.