Hillary Clinton scored a resounding victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders in Saturday’s South Carolina Democratic primary, a rout expected to create a glide path for her through a number of southern states that vote on Tuesday.
Her overwhelming triumph in the Palmetto State, where African-Americans made up a larger percentage of the electorate than they did in 2008, gives Clinton a significant boost heading into March 1, when a number of states with large black populations cast their votes. Clinton’s win over Sanders in South Carolina was dominant, with her margin of victory approaching 50 points.
Clinton’s win is her third of the campaign. A week ago, she captured the Nevada caucuses and won the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses by a razor-thin margin.
“Today you sent a message,” Clinton said during a victory speech in Columbia. “When you stand together there is no barrier too big to break,” she said. “Tomorrow, this campaign goes national.”
South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, who introduced her, called it a significant victory that “starts Hillary Clinton on her way” to the presidency.
In a statement after Clinton’s win was announced, Sanders said, “This campaign is just beginning. We won a decisive victory in New Hampshire. She won a decisive victory in South Carolina. Now it’s on to Super Tuesday.”
Bracing for the loss, Sanders has been hitting Clinton on issues important to African Americans. With merely days before larger, delegate-rich states like Texas and Georgia vote on March 1, the Vermont senator needs to expand his support among minorities.
Yet exit surveys show why South Carolina is emblematic of Sanders’ challenge ahead. Six in ten South Carolina Democratic primary voters were African-American, the exit polls indicated, breaking the state’s 55% record from eight years ago, when then-Sen. Barack Obama was on the ballot. Clinton dominated among black voters, capturing the support of more than four out of five.
Read more: USA Today