Joe Biden wins big in SC Democratic presidential primary

·3 min read

Former Vice President Joe Biden easily won the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary Saturday.

At his Columbia victory party, Biden was introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, South Carolina’s ranking Democrat whose endorsement last week helped vault Biden to a decisive win.

“My buddy Jim Clyburn,” Biden said, shaking the Columbia congressman’s hand as he came on stage, “You brought me back!”

“For all those who’ve been knocked down, counted out, left behind: this is your campaign,” Biden said. “And now, the heart of the Democratic Party, we just won and we won big because of you, and we are very much alive. This campaign is taking off, so join us.”

Coming off of losses in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, Biden needed a strong win in South Carolina. He faced six other active candidates on the ballot, including the national front-runner in the polls, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg was not on the South Carolina ballot.

With results from about half the state in Saturday night, Biden held a commanding lead, receiving about half the votes. Biden’s win serves to curb some of Sanders’ momentum heading into Tuesday’s “Super Tuesday” contests, when 14 states’ voters make their picks.

Within a minute of the race being called, the crowd at Biden’s victory party — which included well known Columbia faces including state Sen. Dick Harpootlian and former Democratic gubernatorial nominee James Smith — erupted in cheers.

Saturday’s contest was the candidates’ first test among African American voters, a key voting bloc in southern states.

And while Biden always led polls in South Carolina, and was heavily favored by black Democrats, Sanders cut into Biden’s lead in the polls here. Billionaire Tom Steyer, who aggressively courted black S.C. voters and spent more than $20 million on ads and other resources in the state, also picked up support near Saturday’s primary. Steyer dropped out Saturday night.

Biden won 3 in 5 black voters, while Sanders won 1 in 5 and Steyer won 1 in 7, according to CNN exit polls. Anger over President Donald Trump’s administration also drove voters to the polls, NBC News reported.

Biden’s win comes just days before the Democratic nominating contest explodes across the country on Super Tuesday. The March 3 contests will put a third of delegates up for grabs.

Those contests include a handful of southern states demographically similar to South Carolina, where Biden’s popularity among black voters could help him secure additional wins. But also weighing in Tuesday are California and Texas, where Sanders is leading in polls and where over 600 delegates combined will be awarded.

At a rally in Virginia, Sanders congratulated Biden on his S.C. win, saying “you cannot win ‘em all. ... And tonight, we did not win in South Carolina. And that will not be the only defeat. There are a lot of states in the country. No one wins them all.”