After watching clips of Mr. Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, “I fell in love,” said Ktyall, who created Strom Thurmond High’s Aspiring Political Leaders of America club.
“It attracted me that he was black, too, and that we had so many diverse candidates. I knew this election was going to be monumental, and I had to get involved,” he said.
Ktyall, whose friends like to call him Obama Junior, will attend the University of South Carolina in the fall.
His friends insist the South has changed since their high school namesake, a long-serving South Carolina senator, ran for president on a segregationist platform in 1948.
“It was a different time, and I wasn’t even alive for most of it,” said Graham Holson, a senior. His parents are both Republican, but he supports Mr. Obama because he is “hungry for change.” He said the Clinton administration did good things that the Bush administration trampled, but he wants something different. “Why would I want eight more years of repeating the same stuff?”
Similar arguments are being made at kitchen tables in the nearly two-dozen states that will vote on Super Tuesday.
The campaigns are preparing for a real battle, looking at the map as a game of political chess where both little wins and big wins count.
The Super Tuesday states differ in how they apportion delegates, and seven of them hold caucuses instead of primaries.
Some states such as California award delegates based on congressional district, so a win in a town such as Lodi would be calculated differently from one in Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Joe Trippi, an adviser to John Edwards, predicted Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma are “definitely a target” for the former North Carolina senator to win, and said the campaign is strong in Idaho, Arizona and “pieces of California.”
Mrs. Clinton holds leads in Western states such as New Mexico and Arizona. She won Hispanic voters by a large margin in the Nevada caucuses and is putting an emphasis on reaching out to that community.
Voters who prefer the former first lady often give a “two-for-one” explanation, one reason Mrs. Clinton will continue using her husband in the campaign.
“She was a real asset to his presidency, and he’ll be one to her, as well,” said Cheryl Sloan of Mount Pleasant, S.C. “They both know how to get things done.”
Others in South Carolina prefer a candidate who appeals to both parties.