Clinton and Obama are in a dead heat among black voters in South Carolina.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – The first post-Oprah poll of likely Democratic voters in South Carolina shows a toss-up between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama among African-Americans in the state, although they see Clinton as the most electable candidate next November.
Clinton leads Obama by a statistically insignificant margin of 46 percent to 45 percent among black voters in the state, according to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted December 9 -12. (The sampling error for black voters is eight percent, a larger number than the four percent margin in the rest of the poll.)
Former Sen. John Edwards comes in a distance third, with 5 percent.
Obama has made significant gains among African-Americans since earlier this year, when Clinton was buoyed by her higher name recognition and Obama remained largely unknown.
The Obama campaign has used their large grassroots organization and small community events in the state to register new voters and introduce Obama to African-Americans more familiar with Clinton.
About half of South Carolina’s Democratic primary-goers are African-American. Black women, who were a clear target of the Oprah rally here last weekend, make up roughly 30 percent of primary voters.
Black voters, asked which candidate has the right experience to be president, chose Clinton over Obama by an overwhelming margin of 72 to 17 percent. They also said, by a margin of 67 percent to 21 percent, that Clinton had the best chance of beating the Republican nominee next year.
Obama won kudos for running a positive campaign: 42 percent of black primary voters said he spends the least time criticizing other candidates. That number was 24 percent for Clinton.
Among white Democratic voters, 41 percent support Clinton, followed by Edwards and Obama, who claim 27 percent and 24 percent of the vote in the CNN poll.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby