South Carolina voters have handed a clear victory to former vice-president Joe Biden. As soon as the polls closed at 7 p.m., news outlets began calling the race in favor of Biden based on exit-polling data showing him with a large advantage. He had led every poll in the state for months — thanks in large part to his strength among black voters — and the victory will boost his chances of staying close with the Democratic front-runner, Bernie Sanders, when 14 states go to the polls on Super Tuesday this week. We’re tracking the results as they come in, as well as providing commentary and analysis, via live updates below.
Outlets have called it
The win not only keeps Biden competitive entering Super Tuesday, it’s also his first-ever win in a presidential primary in three bids at the White House. With about 96 percent of precincts reporting, Biden leads with 48.7 percent of the vote, followed by Sanders with 20 percent, and Tom Steyer with 11.4 percent. No other candidate made it out of single digits.
Exit polls show a big night for Biden
The former vice-president’s focus on the Palmetto State certainly paid off, as his campaign resonated with older, African-American, and more conservative Democrats — all demographics friendly to Biden. According to exit-poll analysis provided by the Washington Post, Biden won 44 percent of voters over 65, 43 percent of black voters, and 38 percent of voters who attend religious services weekly. According to NBC News, 60 percent of black Democrats voted for Biden, far outpacing the next-closest candidate, Bernie Sanders, who won 17 percent. Over half of those who turned out were African-American.
And he looks energized in his victory speech
“To all of those who have been knocked down, counted out, and left behind, this is your campaign,” Biden said to a crowd at his campaign headquarters in Columbia. “The press and the pundits had declared this candidacy dead, [but] now, thanks to all of you, the heart of the Democratic Party, we won and we won big because of you.”
The delegate count
According to early projections, Joe Biden is expected to pick up 25 delegates from South Carolina, while Bernie Sanders will hang on to his lead with six. That would mean Sanders leads with 51 delegates, Biden trails with 40, Pete Buttigieg with 26, and Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar with eight and seven, respectively. There’s still a long way to go, however: On Super Tuesday, a total of 1,344 delegates are at stake.
Electability is a major concern in S.C.
Tom Steyer drops out
Though the billionaire spent an estimated $22.5 million in the state on television ads alone, the payout did not reflect in the exit polls, where Steyer managed just 14 percent support from those who attend religious services weekly and just 6 percent of voters 17 to 29. After NBC projected that Steyer would miss the 15 percent statewide threshold to earn delegates, he announced he was dropping out of the race.
“I said if I didn’t see a path to winning, then I’d suspend my campaign,” Steyer said on Saturday. “And honestly, I can’t see a path where I can win the presidency.”
And Pete Buttigieg takes a hit
As the New York Times’ Reid J. Epstein and Trip Gabriel note, Pete Buttigieg spent more days in South Carolina than any other candidate, and spent more on TV ads ($2.5 million) than anyone but Steyer. Despite the attention — and direct outreach to black voters — Buttigieg was not able to earn more than 2 percent of African-American support on Saturday.
And the people of South Carolina really don’t like Bloomberg
Biden grabs another important Virginia endorsement
Shortly after the first projections came in calling Biden the winner in South Carolina, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe endorsed the former vice-president on CNN, saying that his decision came down to “an electability issue, who has the best shot at beating Donald Trump.” Polls show Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden competitive in the state, which votes on Super Thursday; Virginia senator Tim Kaine also endorsed Biden earlier this week.
And gets some potential good news for Super Tuesday
CNBC is reporting that bundlers supporting Biden’s campaign are seeing a major uptick in fundraising following the win in South Carolina: “According to people with direct knowledge of the matter, Biden’s bundlers lured donors who had been backing Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. They also grabbed support from donors who had been uncommitted … These wealthy donors are now willing to give up to the max amount of $2,800 to Biden’s campaign, which has struggled at times to raise cash.”
The president weighs in
Between making fun of Democratic candidates and giving himself an “A+++” rating for his handling of the coronavirus in a speech at CPAC, Trump managed to find time to analyze the impact of Biden’s primary win.