President Biden was projected to cruise to victory in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday, handing him a decisive victory in a state on which he had bet big, according to Decision Desk HQ.
His win comes after Biden backed the unprecedented move to make South Carolina the first voting state over New Hampshire, part of his effort to promote diverse voices in early Democratic primaries.
Though Biden won the January primary in New Hampshire through a write-in campaign launched by his supporters, he did not receive any actual delegates there, since the Democratic Party did not officially sanction that contest. His victory in South Carolina, therefore, is his first official primary win.
Expectations for Biden in the Palmetto State were high. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), one of the president’s most important allies in Congress, said success for Biden would translate to at least “seventy percent” of the voter turnout, according to The New York Times.
“I hope we get 150,000 people to vote, and of the 150 to 200,000 people, I would like to see Joe Biden get 70, 75 percent of that,” Clyburn told the outlet.
Biden’s win shows that the energy he focused on the state paid off. While South Carolina likely won’t be a battleground in the general election, his victory could help energize Democrats ahead of November. Biden traveled to South Carolina twice in January and deployed first lady Jill Biden and Vice President Harris to the state to rally voters.
It also further undercut arguments from primary challengers, including Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and author Marianne Williamson, who have criticized Biden over the enthusiasm from the base for him and his lingering challenges, like his age and approval rating.
South Carolina was a major state for Biden in 2020 and his focus on it during his first term looked like a way to pay back voters there for helping him secure the nomination. His campaign was considered all but over until he won the South Carolina primary, which came after a pivotal endorsement from Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.).
Biden’s victory among Democrats in South Carolina gives him a boost going into the general election, against likely challenger former President Trump. It marks the president’s second win this primary season— after New Hampshire’s win last month, which was through a unique write-in initiative.
The aggregation of polls kept by Decision Desk HQ and The Hill shows Trump with a 2.2 percentage point lead over Biden in a hypothetical head-to-head contest.
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