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Story highlights

South Carolina Democrats voted Saturday for their presidential primary pick

In 2008, 55% of voters were black, but now African Americans made up more than six in 10 voters

Washington CNN —  

African-American voters are making up a larger portion of the South Carolina Democratic primary electorate than they did in 2008, and a larger percentage voted for Hillary Clinton than voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, according to exit polls conducted Saturday.

In 2008, 55% of voters were black, but now African-Americans made up 61% of voters. In 2008, 78% of black voters went with Obama and 19% backed Clinton, according to exit polls at the time. But this time, 84% of black voters went for Clinton and 16% went for Sanders.

Sanders won New Hampshire with strong support of white voters, who made up 93% of the electorate there. But white voters only made up 35% of voters in South Carolina on Saturday, according to the polls, and Clinton beat him with that group 54%-46%.

Democratic voters also said the economy was the most important issue facing the country, with 44% selecting it, compared with 35% of Democrats in Nevada and 33% in New Hampshire who said it was the most important. Half of South Carolinians voting Saturday said they are very worried about the direction of the nation’s economy, while just 29% of voters in New Hampshire agreed.

Moderate to conservative Democrats also made up a larger portion of the electorate in South Carolina than in previous states, according to exit polls, with 46% of voters identifying that way. Only 32% of Democrats in Iowa and 30% in Nevada identified as moderate to conservative.

Democratic voters also said they were looking for candidates with empathy, honesty and experience, but were less concerned about whether the candidate could win the White House.

Clinton won almost every group of voters in South Carolina – including men, women, white and black voters. She also won across the ideological spectrum of Democrats in South Carolina – winning at least 70% of voters who said they were conservative, moderate, liberal and very liberal.

Clinton also edged out Sanders among voters who said they wanted someone honest, 51%-49%. In New Hampshire, Clinton had 6% of voters looking for someone honest, in Nevada she won 12% and in Iowa she won 10%.

Sanders won voters under the age of 29, 54% to 46%, but they only accounted for 15% of the electorate Saturday. But Clinton won voters over the age of 30 almost 3 to 1 over Sanders.

Of the voters polled Saturday, 43% said race relations had deteriorated in the U.S. in the last few years, while about 18% said it improved. South Carolina has been home to some of the most jarring race-related events over the last year, including a church shooting last year in Charleston last year that killed nine people.

Related to that, 81% of voters said that reducing gun violence was more important than protecting gun rights, even though 41% said they were gun owners.