The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘We got decimated,’ Sanders says of South Carolina primary loss

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally and concert in Columbia, S.C. (Lucian Perkins for The Washington Post)

ROCHESTER, Minn. — The morning after the South Carolina primary, Bernie Sanders acknowledged this much: “We got decimated.”

The senator’s assessment of his 47.5 percentage point loss to Hillary Clinton came on ABC’s “This Week,” one of three Sunday morning talk shows on which he appeared.

Sanders also predicted that he would do better with African American voters going forward, after a dismal showing Saturday in which Clinton outperformed him 86 percent to 14 percent, according to exit polls.

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“Yes, absolutely,” Sanders said when asked by host George Stephanopoulos whether he would have to do better with the black vote to have a shot at the nomination. “No argument with you. You are correct. But I think you’re going to see us doing much better within the African American community outside of the Deep South. You’re going to see us doing much better in New York state, where I think we have a shot to win, in California and in Michigan.”

Sanders said the only positive in South Carolina is that he continued to perform well among younger voters.

“And that was good,” he said. “But we got killed.”

His chattiness about the race on Sunday morning followed near-silence on Saturday night.

When the race was called, Sanders was on a plane, flying between campaign stops in Texas and Minnesota, two states with Super Tuesday contests. He hadn’t been in South Carolina since shortly after 9 that morning.

During the nearly two-hour flight, Sanders’s office issued a statement congratulating Clinton and vowing to fight on. Once he landed, the senator from Vermont finally appeared on camera, speaking to the more than dozen reporters traveling with him — for 24 seconds.

During the rally here in Rochester that followed, Sanders made no mention of the South Carolina primary during a nearly hour-long stump speech to an enthusiastic crowd of about 2,600 people.