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If anybody had told me last year I’d have accurately predicted 90% of the events leading up to the special election, I’d probably have asked them what kind of acid they dropped.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has won the South Carolina primary, a much-needed bounceback after mediocre showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. While this win was expected, what is surprising is his margin of victory: a nearly 30-point romp that saw him sweep every county across the diverse state.

Lost in the discussion of Blagojevich’s sins is another fact: the end of Blago marked the end of the Illinois Democratic Party’s effective competition downstate. Looking at the trends from 1998 to 2006 shows a clear shift and a fascinating look at the rapid decline in the state’s ancestrally Democratic strongholds.