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Gary Younge
Black voters make a break for Obama in close Democratic contest

For all the ink that has been spilled on Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, race and gender - including my own - you would expect their increasingly bitter confrontation would somehow manifest itself among black voters in South Carolina.

But after a day talking to people in barber shops and beauty salons it seems that the rancour that pervades the national campaign is of little interest to people on the ground. The African Americans we spoke to loved both candidates. Disappointingly and maybe predictably some men had reservations about the ability of a woman to be president. But broadly speaking they liked them both and would be happy if either of them won.

Sadly for Hillary, it seems they would be happier if Obama won. And that's the way the vote seems to be shaking out. Indeed, unless the Clintons (they really love her husband, rather than her) can really pull something out of the hat, Obama could well take the black vote with something near a landslide, as he did in Nevada where he got more than 80% of the black vote.

This spells bad news for Clinton in South Carolina. But more importantly, if Obama can repeat this elsewhere in the country, which seems entirely feasible, it could be devastating for Clinton on Super Duper Tuesday , when big states with large black populations which are crucial to the Democratic base like New York, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Missouri are in play.

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