South Carolina Primary: Bernie Sanders flies out of state on voting day as polls put him far behind Hillary Clinton

Ms Clinton may be set to win by a margin of victory that Barack Obama enjoyed over her in 2008

As voters headed to the polls in South Carolina on Saturday morning, Bernie Sanders left the state and headed for Texas - an indication of the huge defeat he is expected to suffer here to Hillary Clinton

As polls opened at 7am on a bright and clear morning in the city of Charleston, and elsewhere across the so-called Palmetto state, Mr Sanders was preparing for rallies in Austin and Dallas. 

His decision to head to Texas, which is one of more than a dozen states across the country that vote in three days time on Super Tuesday, reflected polls collated by Real Clear Politics that put Mr Sanders on just 32 points, a full 26 points behind Ms Clinton.

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Bill Clinton and Hillary at a rally in Columbia on Friday night

Mr Sanders made a final three appearances on Friday, speaking to an audience of just a few hundred people at Claflin University, a historically black school in Orangeburg.

“We came to South Carolina from a state far, far away where it gets a little bit colder than it does here,” said Mr Sanders, according to the Washington Post. “When we came here to South Carolina, we knew very few people. That’s the simple truth.”

Later he spoke at a fish fry and rally in Columbia, where he appeared alongside the rapper Killer Mike, who has endorsed the Vermont senator.

“In 1963, I was there with Dr King for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” he said.

He also spoke at concert in the evening. “I need your help tomorrow, here in South Carolina,” he said. “We need you to bring out your brothers and your sisters and your moms and your dads and your kids and your grandparents.”

By contrast to Mr Sanders limited appearances, Ms Clinton and her surrogates have spent much of the week in the state, determined to secure a huge victory they hope will give them momentum ahead of next Tuesday’s crucial day of voting. She, her husband and daughter did a combined nine campaign events on Friday and Ms Clinton would enjoy the emotional boost of moving on from her shuddering defeat to Barack Obama in South Carolina in 2008

“Let’s go make America all it should be again,” Ms Clinton said at her own rally in Columbia. “The South Carolina primary is personally important to me because I want to send a strong signal that South Carolina is ready for change, ready for progress, ready to make a difference.”

Ms Clinton’s campaign has been counting on her support among African American voters, who will make up the majority of people voting today. Mr Sanders, who has struggled against the perception that he comes from a state that is 99 per cent white, despite his considerable efforts at outreach to the black community.

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