Joe Biden has won the South Carolina Democratic primary, picking up a crucial win before Super Tuesday, according to our partners at Decision Desk.
The state is the first major test of black voters’ support — and Biden’s first primary win thus far. According to early exit polls from the Washington Post, Biden won overwhelmingly among black voters, picking up 60 percent of black voters’ support, compared to Sanders who came away with 17 percent, and Steyer who won 14 percent.
This victory is significant for Biden, whose campaign has otherwise been floundering up until this point. It puts him in a much stronger position going into Super Tuesday, which features more than 1,300 delegates and takes place in just three days. It also gives him the ability to more effectively frame himself as a moderate challenger to Sanders, who had back-to-back wins in New Hampshire and Nevada.
Polls in South Carolina closed at 7 pm Eastern, and the projected outcome was called shortly after. Vox has live results from Decision Desk:
South Carolina is an inflection point in the race
South Carolina’s importance, much like that of its other early counterparts, isn’t really about the delegates the winner will earn. There are 54 pledged delegates at stake Saturday, comprising just over 1 percent of the national delegate haul. The state’s primary is important more as a signal of what’s ahead.
Not only did the win Saturday give Biden’s campaign a boost, it also sent a message about other candidates. For some, like former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who have struggled to build support with black voters, the primary results may have signaled a lack of inroads with a more diverse electorate. And for billionaire activist Tom Steyer, they showed his massive investments in the state failed to translate to enough votes. (Steyer dropped out of the presidential race shortly after results were announced.)
Since it became an early state in 2008, South Carolina has been an important bellwether. It both sets the tone for Super Tuesday and typically foreshadows how a series of Southern states — with similar demographics — will go.
Biden is banking on this dynamic to revive his campaign: He has a strong base among older black voters and has shown how resilient it is, given the outcome in South Carolina.