Vice President Joe Biden won the US Democratic primary in South Carolina on Feb. 29. After three defeats in a row, the self-proclaimed comeback kid celebrated his first victory, which has the potential to be a game-changer for the upcoming Super Tuesday.
Biden’s Convincing Win in SC
Biden needed the win desperately. So much, that a simple win arguably would not have sufficed. Biden’s prayers were answered. With 48.4 percent of the vote, he beat front-runner Bernie Sanders (19.9) decisively. Biden also obtained 33 delegates, Sanders 11. The other candidates in the race Steyer (11.3), Buttigieg (8.2), Warren (7.1), and Klobuchar (3.1) each received no delegates and had subpar nights.
While Bernie Sanders is still leading the race with 56 delegates, Biden has made the race wide open again with now 48 delegates of his own. Buttigieg is the only other candidate with two-digit delegates at 26.
“We just won, and we won because of you,” Biden said Saturday night to supporters in South Carolina’s capital, Columbia. “A few days ago, the press and pundits declared this candidacy dead,” he added. “We are very lively.”
Sanders had previously congratulated his competitor Biden on his victory. “We did not win in South Carolina tonight,” said Sanders at a campaign event in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “I want to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory tonight.”
Biden’s Strong Support in the African-American Community
Biden’s win was anticipated, and yet the decisiveness was impressive. South Carolina was a different beast than the three previous stops. Almost thirty percent of the population is black, and Biden has been a superstar among African-Americans ever since he served under President Obama. So much so that 61 percent of the African-American vote went to Biden. Sanders received a mere 17 percent.
South Carolina was a do or die situation for Biden. A lackluster result in South Carolina would have likely been the end of his campaign. Now, however, Biden is entering Super Tuesday with significant momentum. A repeat of his South Carolina success is highly conceivable since many of the participating states possess similar demographics.
Meanwhile, the evening took a different path for Tom Steyer. His 11.3 percent does not appear to be atrocious per se; however, Steyer’s campaign focused heavily on South Carolina and should have done much better. Since the last year, he had saturated the state with commercials, for a total of eighteen million dollars. Accordingly, the result was disappointing, and his withdrawal should be the logical consequence. It will be interesting to see which candidate Steyer’s voters will end up turning toward. The most likely scenario, particularly after his win, seems to be Biden, which would make the former VP an even bigger winner of the evening.
Buttigieg’s Reality Check: Huge Lack of Support in Minority Communities
Another candidate witnessed a reality check. Prior to the start of the primaries, the lack of black support for Buttigieg had been evident. Now, it has become the issue it had been advertised as. Buttigieg simply cannot reach black voters. After obtaining only 2 percent of the black votes in Nevada, he received 3 percent Saturday in South Carolina. Accordingly, the Buttigieg camp will enter Super Tuesday with a severe degree of pessimism. Not only will he once again struggle to gain any black support in the Southern states, but he will also have to compete with Warren and Klobuchar in their respective home states. The latter makes an even acceptable Super Tuesday for Buttigieg somewhat inconceivable.
The primary in South Carolina was the last one prior to Super Tuesday on March 3 when more than a dozen states are going to vote. The race will once again change, as more than a third of all delegates will be assigned here, and the dropout of at least one other candidate must be expected. The winner of everything that is currently happening is Joe Biden, who, right now, cannot wait to make this a two-person race between himself and Bernie Sanders.