How should the other candidates respond to Biden’s South Carolina win?
After being accused of leading a lacklustre campaign, Barack Obama’s former Vice President Joe Biden has secured the win he needs to rescue his chances of winning the 2020 Democratic nomination by securing victory at the South Carolina Democratic primary.
He achieved a 48.4 percent vote share from 255,660 electors, beating the favourite to win the Democratic primaries, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, into second place as he only achieved a 19.9 percent vote share among 105,068 voters.
Billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer has already responded to the former Vice President’s victory by ending his own presidential bid, after he won 59,817 electors.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who performed so well during the Iowa and North Hampshire primaries, fell into fourth place in this race with an 8.2 percent vote share from 43,483 electors.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren secured a disappointing 7.1 percent vote share from 37,825 electors.
The term ‘comeback kid’ was once applied to former President Bill Clinton when he struggled at the beginning of the 1992 Democratic primaries and then went on to secure the nomination that year, and now it can be used to describe Biden’s miraculous turnaround on Saturday night. He is now poised to perform well during this week’s Super Tuesday race, where votes will be cast in 14 states and one territory.
However, Sanders is still the leading candidate to beat. He holds 57 delegates, but the former Vice President now has 51.
Buttigieg has 26 delegates so far, Warren has eight and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has seven.
Former New York Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who was hoping to use his fortunes to shower voters with campaign ads that could turn the tide against Biden and position him as the only man who could defeat Donald Trump, has zero delegates.
This demonstrates that Biden has the potential to win black voters who supported Obama during his two presidential victories in 2008 and 2012. 60 percent of the Democratic electorate in South Carolina is black, but in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where the former Vice President polled badly, the party’s electorate is mostly white.
For Buttigieg, his anticipated surge in black support never happened in South Carolina. He only managed to secure two percent of black voters in this state. His record of failing to tackle a rise in violent crime in South Bend portrayed him as a man who ignored black voters in his own town and that went against him.
If Biden performs well during Super Tuesday, then he will emerge as the only candidate capable of defeating Sanders. If Bloomberg, Buttigieg and Klobuchar are also serious about defeating the Vermont Senator, then they might have to follow Steyer’s lead and drop out the race to unite behind Biden. With the South Bend Mayor and the Minnesota Senator both holding 26 and seven delegates respectively, they have the potential to lift the former Vice President to victory.
If Warren exited the race, it would not boost Sanders’ fortunes much as she only holds eight delegates.
Even if all the moderate candidates unite behind Biden, he still faces other hurdles. The former Vice President needs to defeat the Vermont Senator’s delegate lead and he must raise some cash. Although his South Carolina victory will persuade donors to fund his campaign, Bloomberg still has a $55.1 million campaign machine behind him, whilst Biden has only raised $7.1 million and Sanders possesses a $16.8 million war chest.
Biden’s win is a relief to many moderate candidates, but now the other centrists in the race need to ask themselves if it is still worth running so that they can lend their delegates to the former Vice President and defeat the most radical candidate the Democrats have ever nominated since George McGovern in 1972.