What happened
Barack Obama pulled into a double-digit lead over Hillary Clinton in South Carolina polls ahead of the state’s Saturday Democratic primary. Obama is favored to win, thanks in part to a big lead among African Americans—who account for nearly half of the state’s eligible Democratic voters. (Reuters)

What the commentators said
Obama has to win South Carolina, said David Broder in The Washington Post (free registration). His only win—in Iowa on Jan. 3—is slipping “further into history” as Clinton gains momentum thanks to her victories in New Hampshire and Nevada. Obama badly needs to show that he has national appeal before the crucial wave of primaries on Feb. 5.

Hillary knows she’ll lose South Carolina, said Dick Morris in The Hill (via RealClearPolitics), but the surge of support from a bloc of black voters will end up costing Obama—the first African American with a real chance to get nominated. It will send the message to white voters that “this is a racial fight,” and the backlash will power Clinton’s “drive to the nomination.”

If Obama has been “ghettoized” as the black candidate, said Mickey Kaus in Slate, his best move is to “find a Sister Souljah” to “stiff arm.” The “most-promising” target is “not a person, but an idea: race-based affirmative action.” If Obama comes out in favor of “shifting to a class-based, race-blind system of preferences”—something he has already suggested he supports—“wouldn't that shock hostile white voters into taking a second look at his candidacy?”