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South Carolina Democratic primary: Clinton wins by nearly 50 points; Sanders vows to go on

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Hillary Clinton wins the South Carolina Democratic primary, giving her a boost going into Super Tuesday.

This is what a big win looks like

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Hillary Clinton erases doubts about minority support, and other takeaways from South Carolina

Hillary Clinton’s campaign had a rocky start in the Democratic nominating contests with a narrow victory in Iowa and a thorough drubbing by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. But she scored a clear win in Nevada last week and then racked up an even bigger margin over Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday.

Clinton hopes momentum from the dominating performance carries her through Super Tuesday next week, when Democrats cast ballots in 11 states and one territory, and on to her party’s presidential nomination. “Tomorrow, this campaign goes national!” Clinton said to big applause Saturday night in Columbia. “We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything and we’re not taking anyone for granted.”

A few takeaways from South Carolina:

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Joe Biden: Republicans have ‘gotten meaner’

Wading in to the contentious presidential race that he once considered joining, Vice President Joe Biden told California Democrats at the party’s convention here that the Republican candidates haven’t changed their positions, only their tone.

“They haven’t changed at all, folks,” said Biden. “They’ve just gotten meaner.”

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Sanders, after loss: My campaign is about ‘transforming America’

Speaking in Minnesota after his double-digit loss to Hillary Clinton in South Carolina, Bernie Sanders said Saturday that his presidential campaign was more about “transforming America” than winning the race.

“What this campaign is about is not just electing a president,” Sanders said at a rally in Rochester. “Yeah, that’s really important, but there’s something that’s more important.... It is about transforming America; it is about thinking big and the kind of country we want to become.”

Sanders, who spent little time in South Carolina in recent days as a big loss for him was forecast, said he needs more than just voter support at the polls.

“Yeah, I’m going to be asking for your vote on Tuesday, but I need more than that from you,” Sanders told the crowd. “I need your help the day after the general election because I can’t do it alone.”

He asked supporters to help him fight Wall Street, corporations, corporate media and big campaign donors.

Sanders also highlighted what he described as key differences between himself and Clinton, noting her vote in support of the war in Iraq and her fundraising for outside groups that are allowed unlimited spending on political campaigns.

Sanders, who has run a largely positive campaign against Clinton, has been baring his teeth a bit more in recent days just before Super Tuesday next week, when Democrats in about a dozen states go to the polls.

He called again for Clinton to release the transcripts of speeches she gave to the financial firm Goldman Sachs, saying they must have been good, given the six-figure sums she was paid to deliver them.

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Subdued Bernie Sanders goes quickly back to core campaign themes

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Whole lotta blue

Here’s a screenshot of our results map. Hillary Clinton was designated in blue; Bernie Sanders was in brown.

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Hillary Clinton vows to help black voters, a base of support in her South Carolina win

Hillary Clinton -- confident, fiery and prepared to move on to Super Tuesday -- vowed to push an agenda that benefits African Americans like those who helped propel her to a strong victory in South Carolina on Saturday.

“We have to face the reality of systemic racism that, more than a half a century after Rosa Parks sat, Dr. King marched and John Lewis led, still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind,” Clinton, noting current and past civil rights leaders, said inside a gymnasium on the campus of the University of South Carolina. “We have to invest in communities of color.”

Clinton, who traversed the state in recent weeks to meet voters at churches and diners, also called for more help for low-income students who attend historically black colleges, several of which are facing funding crises.

“We’re going to give special support to our historically black colleges and universities,” she said to deafening cheers.

To appeal to the concerns of blacks about police brutality, Clinton had sought and received the endorsements of several African American mothers whose sons died in encounters with police that caused national outcries and brought accusations of bias.

“They all lost children, which is almost unimaginable, yet they have not been broken or bitter,” Clinton said of the mothers. “They are reminding us of something deep and powerful in the American spirit.”

Clinton also pointed to Flint, Mich., a majority black city in the midst of a water-supply crisis due to lead contamination.

“There are many other Flints out there, communities that have been left behind, but for every problem we face, someone, somewhere, is working to solve it,” she said. “Our country was built by people who had each other’s backs.”

In her brief remarks, she also sought to hit Republicans. She did not name GOP front-runner Donald Trump but did jab at the billionaire businessman who calls for the need to “make America great again.”

“We don’t need to make America great again. America never stopped being great,” she said.

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Key African American ally says Clinton was rewarded in South Carolina

(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton’s top African American surrogate in South Carolina attributed her decisive win here to her commitment to building on the Obama administration’s efforts to create jobs and grow the economy.

Clinton’s loyalty to the administration did not go unnoticed, said Rep. James E. Clyburn. Among blacks, President Obama remains widely popular, and Clinton has repeatedly reminded voters here of her ties to him.

“South Carolinians have said if you work hard, if you build the resume, if you remain true to your own principles, if you remain loyal to the administration that got this economy out of the ditch, and if you lay out a plan on how you would build on that record … you will be rewarded,” Clyburn said as he introduced Clinton on Saturday night at her victory party.

“Tonight, you have rewarded Hillary Clinton and she will reward each and every one of us and this great nation.”

Exit polls showed 6 in 10 voters in the primary here were black – an uptick from 2008 when Clinton competed with Obama in the Democratic primary and black voters made up about 55% of the electorate.

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Super Tuesday analysis

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Meanwhile, awaiting Bernie Sanders in Minnesota

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Hillary Clinton in victory speech: ‘Make America whole again’

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Hillary Clinton eyes Donald Trump in victory speech: ‘America has never stopped being great’

Hillary Clinton basked briefly in an overwhelming victory in South Carolina on Saturday, but quickly began to look ahead to the widening battlefield in the Democratic nomination race and even the general election as she called for greater civility in politics.

“Tomorrow, this campaign goes national,” Clinton told supporters at an election night rally in Columbia, the state’s capital.

“We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything and we’re not taking anyone for granted.”

Clinton congratulated her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, on a well-fought campaign in the state and again seemed to absorb some of his populist messaging. She made an early plea for online contributions, thanking the more than 850,000 grass-roots donors that she said “are powering this campaign.”

Her message included some of the staples of her recent stump speech -- promising to build on the progress of President Obama while pledging to break down the barriers that she said still hold too many Americans back.

Clinton also praised the courage of mothers whose children died in racially charged encounters, saying they “have channeled their sorrow into a strategy, and their mourning into a movement.” And she again highlighted the water crisis in Flint, Mich., praising ordinary people who have stepped up to help the city’s residents.

But she also seemed to look past Super Tuesday next week to offer an early hint of her strategy against the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump.

“Despite what you hear, we don’t need to make America great again. America has never stopped being great,” she said, as the audience roared at the clear reference to Trump’s campaign slogan.

“But we do need to make America whole again,” she continued. “Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers. We need to show by everything we do that we really are in this together.”

Later, she cited the Bible as she called for Americans to lift one another up. The verse she mentioned was from 1 Corinthians; Trump took some flak for referring to 2 Corinthians as “two Corinthians,” rather than the more colloquial “second Corinthians,” in a campaign appearance at an evangelical Christian university.

“I know it sometimes seems a little odd for someone running for president in these, in this time, to say we need more love and kindness in America,” Clinton said. “But I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart, we do.”

Clinton was introduced by South Carolina’s lone Democrat in Congress, Rep. James E. Clyburn, who had offered a well-timed endorsement just as the campaign shifted to his state.

South Carolina voters, he said, “have started Hillary Clinton on her way to the White House.”

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Decisive win among black voters spurs Hillary Clinton’s victory in South Carolina

(Win McNamee / Getty Images)

How did Hillary Clinton do it? Her decisive win in South Carolina was carried by overwhelming support from black voters, the biggest voting demographic in the first-in-the-South Democratic primary.

According to an exit poll of nearly 1,400 voters Saturday, about 2 in 3 voters were black, and Clinton won about 85% of that group.

Given her struggles with the youth vote in previous nominating contests, Clinton notably also won among black voters under the age of 30, garnering the support of more than half to Sanders’ 4 in 10.

She also won the support of nearly all black voters over the age of 65.

Clinton’s strong performance exceeded even then-Sen. Barack Obama’s in 2008. In a three-candidate race then, Obama won 78% of the black vote compared with 19% for Clinton and just 2% for John Edwards.

The results appear to have also surpassed even the most hopeful Clinton campaign expectations, and follow a strategy in which the former secretary of State worked aggressively to highlight her connection to President Obama as a member of his administration, and her commitment to build on his legacy.

A major question heading into a general election campaign with Clinton as a potential nominee is whether she could replicate the strong African American turnout that contributed to a more diverse electorate and helped boost him to two terms in the White House.

It’s too soon to say whether these results in one primary augur well for her chances of doing so in the fall. But it may indicate she is well-positioned for a strong night next week on Super Tuesday, when African Americans make up a sizable share of the electorates in many of the states being contested.

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Biden on Democratic race: ‘Proud of both of them’

Vice President Biden is speaking to the California Democratic Party convention, which we’re covering over on the Essential Politics live blog.

He informed the crowd of local party activists and delegates gathered in San Jose that Clinton had won in South Carolina, to applause.

(Like that video? You can follow latimespolitics on Snapchat.)

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Bernie Sanders: ‘This campaign is just beginning’

(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Bernie Sanders congratulated Hillary Clinton on her victory in South Carolina in a statement released just minutes after polls closed in the state. But he made it clear that he isn’t giving up on the race for the Democratic nomination.

“This campaign is just beginning,” Sanders said. “Our grass-roots political revolution is growing state by state, and we won’t stop now.”

Like he did after his loss to Clinton in Nevada last week, Sanders highlighted how much name recognition and support he gained in South Carolina, where, he said, he was “all but unknown when this campaign began 10 months ago.”

Although the support was not enough to push him to victory, Sanders said it helped create momentum that will carry him to what he described as even more important nominating contests next week on Super Tuesday.

“In just three days, Democrats in 11 states will pick 10 times more pledged delegates on one day than were selected in the four early states so far in this campaign,” Sanders said.

His statement ended with a jab at Donald Trump, who is looking to secure the Republican presidential nomination with his own run on Super Tuesday.

“When we come together, and don’t let people like Donald Trump try to divide us, we can create an economy that works for all of us and not just the top 1%,” Sanders said.

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Watch what happens when supporters at Hillary Clinton’s victory party hear she won

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Hillary Clinton wins South Carolina primary, giving her a boost going into Super Tuesday

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary in South Carolina on Saturday, the Associated Press projected, giving her campaign new momentum over insurgent Bernie Sanders and bolstering her advantage with the minority voters crucial to her bid to win the party’s nomination for president.

Clinton now heads into next week’s Super Tuesday contests with growing confidence and commanding leads in opinion polls in most of the high-stakes states.

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Early exit poll indicates heavy African American turnout in South Carolina

Early results of the exit poll in South Carolina indicate that about 6 in 10 voters in the Democratic primary are African American, a figure that would suggest good news for Hillary Clinton.

Black voters made up just over half the vote in 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama ran against Clinton for the nomination. That time around, Clinton lost black voters. This time, however, preelection polls have shown Clinton strongly winning among African Americans.

Demographic projections in exit polls always shift as additional data come in during the course of an election night. So that 6-in-10 figure, released by CNN, could change. If it holds up, however, it would probably indicate a strong night for Clinton.

The exit poll is conducted by Edison Research for a consortium of the major television networks and the Associated Press.

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Where is Bernie Sanders on primary night in South Carolina?

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Hillary Clinton aims for strong showing in South Carolina

The outcome of the Democratic primary in South Carolina on Saturday will signal whether the firewall that Hillary Clinton worked for months to build with minority voters is finally showing signs of stability.

After a bumpy start, Clinton heads into election day in this state with renewed momentum, looking to best rival Bernie Sanders with a turnout expected to be more than half African American. The state is considered a bellwether of support among black voters, who are crucial to winning the Democratic nomination.

“To me, there is no state more important than South Carolina,” said Cornell Belcher, who was a pollster for President Obama when he won the state in 2008.

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Follow along: Live results from the South Carolina Democratic primary

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Lopez: Here’s why Donald Trump will never win over L.A.'s Latinos

One thing about Donald Trump, say his name and you get a reaction.

On the Eastside of Los Angeles, as Trump’s star rises, most of those reactions are not simpatico.

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French nationalist Le Pen endorses Trump

Controversial French nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen said Saturday that he supports GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

“If I was American, I would vote Donald TRUMP... But may God protect him!” Le Pen tweeted in French.

Le Pen for decades led France’s far-right National Front party, which was known for its calls for cracking down on immigration.

He also was known for provocative statements about the Holocaust, foreigners, Muslims and people infected with HIV.

Trump has racked up several more conventional, and probably more welcome, Republican endorsements as his campaign appears on track to win most of the 12 states that will vote on March 1, Super Tuesday.

On Saturday, Jan Brewer, a former Republican governor of Arizona, announced her backing. On Friday, Trump campaigned with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who quit the presidential race after coming in sixth in the New Hampshire primary, and announced support from Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

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Hundreds rally for Bernie Sanders in Pasadena

Rallies were organized across the country for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Saturday. Hundreds of supporters from the Los Angeles County area gathered outside of Pasadena City Hall. They were encouraged to call voters after marching through the city.

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Marco Rubio launches #NeverTrump. Does that mean he won’t support if Trump is GOP nominee?

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Marco Rubio draws giant crowd ahead of Super Tuesday. Ted Cruz, not so much

Crowd size doesn’t always translate to victory at the polls, but as Republicans scrambled for votes Saturday before the critical March 1 Super Tuesday contests, it seemed clear who had momentum Saturday.

Spillover parking lots were needed to handle the giant turnout at a rally for Marco Rubio in the Atlanta suburb of Kennesaw, a community with a historic Civil War battlefield in what is now one of the wealthiest counties in the state.

The Florida senator continued his taunts and mocking of GOP front-runner Donald Trump as a con man and a fraud, continuing the newly aggressive strategy he first unleashed at a debate Thursday in Houston.

Rubio also promised to unite the fractured Republican party behind him, and beat Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, in the fall election.

Cruz campaigned for a second day in his home state, Texas, which has become a must-win for him Tuesday. He leads Trump in some statewide polls, but the race appears tight.

The Texas senator drew a modest but enthusiastic crowd to Liberty Park outside Austin, the state capital. He pledged to revoke President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and to put conservative justices on the Supreme Court.

With Trump leading in the polls of most of the 12 states voting Tuesday, Rubio and Cruz both are hoping to do well enough to knock the other out — and go head to head against Trump for the contests that follow.

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Willie Wilson? He’s on the ballot in South Carolina

(Brendan Hoffman/Getty)

As Democrats vote today in South Carolina’s presidential primary, a little known candidate will be on the ballot: Willie Wilson.

Wilson, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Chicago in 2015, is far behind Hillary Clinton, who leads all the polls, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Indeed, Wilson has failed to register any support in polls. Nor has he participated in any of the candidates’ debates.

Whatever his merits, the obscure businessman is unlikely to get more than a handful of votes even in a state famous for political surprises.

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Vice President Biden, Robert Reich making political pitches to Californians today

The California Democratic Party is holding its convention in San Jose this weekend.

Local activists will be considering endorsements in the competitive Senate race and a host of congressional battles, but the main attractions today will be speeches from Vice President Biden and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

Biden speaks at 3 p.m. Pacific time. Reich speaks in the evening.

Reich officially endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders yesterday, although it was not a surprise since he has made clear recently that was where his allegiances lie.

A professor with a strong following on the left, Reich served during President Clinton’s first term. But Sanders has his primary vote.

“I have the deepest respect and admiration for Hillary Clinton, and if she wins the Democratic primary, I’ll work my heart out to help her become president. But I believe Bernie Sanders is the agent of change this nation so desperately needs,” Reich said.

The Sanders and Clinton teams are out in full force as they work to influence activists ahead of California’s June 7 primary.

Our Essential Politics team is on the ground and live blogging throughout the day.

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Big crowd for Rubio

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An international endorsement

The full translation: “If I was American, I would vote Donald TRUMP … May God protect him !”

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In Charleston, some early voters go for Clinton

Paceta Powell never imagined she’d live to see a black man elected president.

“I was so proud of President Obama and I hate see him leave,” she said Saturday morning as she exited Memminger Elementary School, a polling location near this city’s central core.

But Powell, 58, who works in the food industry, said it’s time to make history again, and she’s supporting Hillary Clinton.

“It’s Hillary’s turn now,” she said. “It’s time for her.”

Powell is one of the black voters who make up about half of South Carolina’s Democratic electorate and will have a powerful say in the outcome of Saturday’s primary between Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Clinton, who polls show has strong support from black voters in the state, is widely expected to secure a victory.

In interviews here on Saturday, voters -- black and white -- said they were supporting Clinton.

“She’s the smartest one in the race, hands down. And that goes for Democrats and Republicans,” said Gary Worth, 59, after casting a ballot at Hazel Parker Playground near the waterfront.

He was joined in voting by Barbara Hearst, who was once married to the late John Randolph “Bunky” Hearst Jr., the grandson of William Randolph Hearst.

“I’ve been a Democrat my whole life,” said Hearst, who carried her dog, Bandit, to the polling place. “This is just so, so thrilling to vote for Hillary. I’m all in.”

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For some voters in South Carolina, Bernie Sanders just doesn’t click

Bernie Sanders may be a nice guy with some good ideas, voters said here during Saturday’s Democratic primary in South Carolina, but he doesn’t have the track record to be president.

Cleveland Sanders, 39, who helped campaign for Hillary Clinton, said Sanders didn’t spend enough time in the state.

“You don’t see him. You don’t hear from him,” he said. “A closed mouth don’t get fed.”

Sanders is also too old, several voters said. (He’s 74, compared with Clinton’s 68.) Others were skeptical that he could achieve his more ambitious liberal agenda, such as healthcare for all run by the federal government.

“Bernie talks about things I don’t think can be done,” said Mitchell Edward, 73.

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Hillary Clinton is the choice for these early voters in South Carolina

A steady trickle of voters began arriving at community centers and schools to cast their ballots here in Saturday’s Democratic primary, and all who were asked said they were voting for Hillary Clinton.

The former secretary of State is expected to win South Carolina by a significant margin, boosted by loyalty from black voters dating to her husband’s presidency.

“I voted for her husband,” said William Bennett, 55. “I’m going to vote for her.”

A number of voters said they appreciated Clinton’s embrace of President Obama. Monica Bailey, 37, said she was leaning toward Sanders until a week ago, when she decided Clinton would be a better successor to the country’s first black president.

“She’s trying to finish what Obama didn’t,” Bailey said.

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Marco Rubio keeps up his attacks on Donald Trump, but he still has to win somewhere

The GOP race for the White House turned into a mud-slinging match Friday as a newly energized Marco Rubio sharpened his attacks on Republican front-runner Donald Trump as a “con artist,” and Trump slammed the senator from Florida as “childlike” and a liar.

Invigorated from a feisty debate performance that put Trump on the defensive, Rubio pulled in money and endorsements as he sought to reinforce his argument that he is the Republican establishment’s best hope for uniting the fractured party and stopping the billionaire’s march to the nomination.

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Generational gap is seen among black voters in South Carolina

Hillary Clinton is an overwhelming favorite to win Saturday’s South Carolina Democratic primary, in large part because of the loyalty of African American voters, who could make up half or more of the primary electorate.

But there is a generation gap between older blacks and younger African Americans, many of whom are gravitating to Sanders. The same generational divide exists among Latinos and white liberals.

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Mexican border: Donald Trump brings a new spotlight to an old debate

In the 2016 presidential campaign, Republican front-runner Donald Trump has based much of his candidacy on a promise to go further with immigration reform — and to build “the greatest wall you’ve ever seen” between the U.S. and Mexico.

“I want it to be so beautiful because maybe someday they’re going to call it the Trump wall,” Trump said in August. Perhaps even bolder was his demand that Mexico fund it, prompting former Mexican President Vicente Fox to say this week, “I’m not going to pay for that ... wall.”

But controversies over how to guard the U.S.-Mexico border are as old as the border itself.

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Viewer interest in debate matches the high stakes

The upward ratings trajectory for the Republican primary debates continued Thursday as 14.52 million watched the candidates face off on CNN and Telemundo.

The feisty showdown in Houston was the fourth consecutive GOP debate to see audience growth. The figure from Nielsen made it the fourth-largest audience out of the 10 debates in the campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

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Polls are open for the South Carolina Democratic primary

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