Polls to close in South Carolina primary as Biden seeks crucial first win

Former Vice President Joe Biden is projected to win the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary, claiming his first victory of the 2020 race in what amounts to a crucial boost for his struggling campaign ahead of Super Tuesday.

Fox News projects that Biden will win Saturday’s primary decisively, reflecting earlier polls indicating he had a significant lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders — buoyed by his support among African-American voters.


Sanders is currently in second place in the Palmetto State, where 54 pledged delegates are at stake, ahead of billionaire Tom Steyer. Behind him are former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.

The win could help Biden reset the race after Sanders racked up victories in New Hampshire and Nevada and essentially tied the Iowa caucuses with Buttigieg. The performance had led to speculation that Sanders may soon be unstoppable on his path to the Democratic nomination, as well as questions over whether Biden could resurrect his campaign after the former front-runner failed to win any of the first three states on the calendar.

But Biden, who has sought to present himself as the moderate best positioned to beat President Trump in November, was hoping that he could get back on the board in southern states with higher numbers of black voters. Iowa and New Hampshire are both whiter states than the U.S. as a whole, while Nevada showed Sanders’ strength with Hispanic voters.

A Fox News voter analysis found that Biden was the highest rated by voters on who could best handle race issues. He got 33 percent compared with Sanders’ 21 percent. Biden also did well with voters over the age of 45, with 47 percent picking Biden, compared with 18 percent for Steyer and 14 percent for Sanders.

Late deciders also went big for Biden, the analysis found, with 38 percent breaking for Biden, with only 19 percent going for Sanders.

Trump used Biden’s win to mock former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is sitting out the early contests but spending astonishing sums on ads in a bid to dominate Super Tuesday.

“Sleepy Joe Biden’s victory in the South Carolina Democrat Primary should be the end of Mini Mike Bloomberg’s Joke of a campaign. After the worst debate performance in the history of presidential debates,  Mini Mike now has Biden split up his very few voters, taking many away!” he tweeted.

The former vice president told reporters on Saturday morning that he’s “optimistic not just about today” but about “the whole process from here on out.”

And Biden predicted that “the bigger the win” in South Carolina, “the bigger the bump” he’ll get going into the 14 Super Tuesday states that hold contests in three days.

Biden predicted that a strong win in South Carolina will “put me in a position to do well in North Carolina and Alabama and other states that I think in the Democratic primary I can do very well.”

“I don’t think it’ll even be over after Super Tuesday. I think it’s so it can go on to states that are ones I feel very good about,” he emphasized.

Polls had suggested Biden should win the contest, but some of those polls had shown a narrower lead and prompted Sanders supporters to hope that he could snatch it. Ahead of the primary, there was speculation that the state’s open primary system — under which Republicans could technically vote — could lead to GOP voters mischievously backing Sanders in a bid to boost the candidate some conservatives would rather see face Trump in November. But if that happened, it wasn’t enough to cut down Biden’s advantage.


The Sanders surge has scared party moderates, who fear that the far-left candidate could hand Trump the presidency as well as Republican control of the House and Senate. Sanders has sought to push back on the narrative that he is unelectable, pointing to polls that he says show him beating Trump in the fall.

“Take a look at the last 60 national polls that have been done,” Sanders told a crowd in Columbia, South Carolina on Friday. “Bernie beats Trump 56 out of the 60 times. Take a look at some of the polls in the battleground states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan — Bernie beats Trump.”

Other candidates, such as Buttigieg and Klobuchar are looking ahead to Super Tuesday already and keeping expectations low for Saturday — with a Buttigieg campaign aide telling Fox News that they’re looking for a fourth- or fifth-place finish. But Steyer is hoping for a strong showing in South Carolina, with polls placing him in third place behind Biden and Sanders.

Steyer told Fox News on Friday how he viewed his chances.

“We have a very good team here. I’ve spent a lot of time on the ground and I’m talking straightforwardly about issues,” he said. “This is a heavily African-American state. I talk very straightforwardly about race. I’m the only person talking about reparations for slavery. I think I’ve been here the most and looked most people in the eye and talked most straightforwardly and I think that’s why.”


Biden, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of the primary in a message to supporters at a rally in Spartanburg.

“This state lifted Barack Obama to the presidency,” Biden said. “And now once again this state holds in its hands, literally, especially the state’s African American community, the power to determine… who the next nominee of the Democratic Party’s going to be”

“You hold in your hand the future of the Democratic Party,” he added.

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