In Illinois, it’s Cook County. In Pennsylvania, it’s the collar counties around Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, and Allegheny County–which encompasses Pittsburgh. In Ohio, it’s Cuyahoga, Hamilton, and Franklin Counties. These are the areas that often decide elections, either statewide or during presidential years.
As Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton prepare to go to war in the Palmetto State, here are the three counties that people should watch when the polls close at 7p.m. (via National Journal):
Richland County: Home to Columbia, this is the second-most populous county in the state and the one that produced the most Democratic votes in the 2008 primary. Obama carried it with two-thirds of the vote in 2008. The University of South Carolina, where Sanders will be looking to rack up support, is located here.
Horry County: This was the only county Clinton won in the 2008 primary. The electorate is older and whiter here compared to other areas in the state, so it could split more evenly between Clinton and Sanders in 2016.
Allendale County: This was the most Democratic county in the state in the 2012 general election, as Obama took 78 percent of the vote. He also carried Allendale in the 2008 primary with nearly two-thirds support. The county is just 24 percent white, so it should be favorable territory for Clinton.
Additionally, the amount of the black voter support Clinton clinches tonight could serve as a bellwether for the rest of the South on Super Tuesday. If the firewall holds, Sanders will have to mount a comeback post-March 15 when the Democrats’ primary veers into North and Northwest. Given how strong blacks voted for Clinton in Nevada, it could be a signal that they’re not leaving her in droves for a self-described democratic socialist that they barely know. If Sanders is somewhat competitive with these voters, it should raise some red flags for the Clinton camp, as they need to position her as the inevitable–and undisputed–Democratic nominee. The last thing they need is Sanders nipping at their heels, still taking delegates, still hauling in cash, and taking this contest all the way to the convention floor, which is possible.
UPDATE: Welp...maybe not. Clinton won black voters in South Carolina decisively.