From NBC's Chuck Todd
Our Mason-Dixon pollster, Brad Coker, emailed this morning responding to our First Thought graph which cites the 2004 S.C. Dem exit poll showing white voters out-numbering black voters. He disputes the 2004 exit poll. Here's his explanation:
"Keep in mind that exit polls can be flawed as an overall demographic
indicator, as they are taken at a limited number of static polling
locations. They are also often 'adjusted' after the fact to match the
actual outcome, and some categories get bent around the edges to make them fit.
To get a real handle on what the African-American vote is likely to be, one only needs to look at real numbers. The South Carolina Secretary of State's office published the following statistics on South Carolina's 2004 and 2006 state Democratic primary elections. These are based on real voters, not a survey sampling.
According to the state's statistics, the '04 Dem primary for president attracted 58% of non-white voters compared to 42% of white voters; In the '06 Dem primary for governor, the ratio was 60-40 in favor of black voters.
These hard numbers show a much higher percentage of African-American voters in South Carolina's state primary races for Governor and U.S. Senate, so I don't think it is a stretch to expect a similar turn-out in a presidential primary that features a major African-American contender. If anything, 55% black might actually end up being a bit on the low side. I will be very surprised if a clear majority of today's Democratic primary voters are not African-American."
Obviously, Brad does this for a living and has a tremendous track record in South Carolina in particular. I remember in '98, he was the only public pollster to see the Jim Hodges upset for governor.