With Super Tuesday looming and the the Democratic presidential race still crowded, voters in South Carolina will head to the polls this Saturday, February 29, for the Palmetto State’s influential primary contest.
The primary is the last of four early-state contests and the first major test of black support for the remaining candidates in the Democratic presidential field (there are eight total, but Mike Bloomberg is not on the ballot in South Carolina). While polls will close at 7 pm ET, results may not be available until later Saturday night.
The state is widely considered former Vice President Joe Biden’s “firewall,” and he hasn’t downplayed that notion. In the 10th Democratic debate earlier this week, he was clear: “I will win South Carolina,” he said.
Polling bears out that confidence: Biden is leading in the FiveThirtyEight South Carolina polling average by just over 19 points, at 37.6 percent. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the current frontrunner for the nomination, is in second with 18.5 percent support, and billionaire Tom Steyer is the only other candidate in double digits at 12.9 percent.
For former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, however, the South Carolina primary could be tough going. In a recent Monmouth University poll, they were mired at 2 percent and 0 percent support, respectively, with black voters in the state, who made up about 61 percent of the Democratic primary electorate in 2016. Their difficulties with voters of color are well-documented.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren hasn’t had the same struggles with voters of color, but her campaign is still on the back foot heading into South Carolina: She currently sits at 7.2 percent — sixth place — in the FiveThirtyEight average.
For all the candidates, South Carolina could be “a critical springboard for Super Tuesday,” and will help prove (or disprove) their ability to appeal to a key Democratic demographic, Vox’s Li Zhou writes:
As the first major test of African American support, South Carolina could seriously help cull the field.
Follow along below for Vox’s coverage of the 2020 South Carolina primary, including results, breaking news updates, analysis, and more.