President Biden won the South Carolina Democratic primary handily on Saturday, defeating two rivals by pulling in 96% of the vote.
The Associated Press called it in his favor at 7:23 p.m., 23 minutes after the polls’ official closing time.
The South Carolina win set Biden on a path to the Democratic nomination, giving him all 55 of the delegates in the Democratic Party’s first presidential primary state.
With 84.4% of the expected vote in, Politico showed Biden with 117,889 votes, or 96.3%, as opposed to 2,473 (2%) for self-help book author Marianne Williamson and 2,011 (1.6%) for Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.).
Biden’s campaign worked to get Black South Carolinians to the polls, and pushed to get the Democratic National Committee to hold its first primary in South Carolina because of the state’s diversity.
Biden and Democrats are trying to shift away from the traditional opening presidential primary contests in New Hampshire and Iowa, which both skew white. Biden won New Hampshire’s primary in January with write-in votes, as he declined to appear on the state’s ballot.
Black Democrats in South Carolina noted the significance of the change in first-primary venue.
“We all know that we, because of the color of this, we, our great grandparents, our grandparents, could not always vote here,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, a Black South Carolina native, said earlier in the day.
“For this president to say, ‘Jaime, for the entirety of your life, we have started this process in Iowa and New Hampshire, and now, we’re going to start it in South Carolina’ — no other president before ever decided to touch that issue.”
Harrison said he “will always be grateful to the president for giving us a chance, for seeing us, and understanding how much we matter.”
Biden has often credited South Carolina as being key to his 2020 success, and he reiterated that Saturday.
“In 2020, it was the voters of South Carolina who proved the pundits wrong, breathed new life into our campaign, and set us on the path to winning the presidency,” Biden said in a statement.
“Now in 2024, the people of South Carolina have spoken again, and I have no doubt that you have set us on the path to winning the presidency again — and making Donald Trump a loser — again.”
In 2020 South Carolina was Biden’s first win, and in a much more competitive field, against U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana and billionaire Tom Steyer. Before that, Biden had placed fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and second in Nevada.
While some voters surveyed as this year’s contest kicked off expressed some reservations about Biden’s age of 81, others saw criminally indicted Donald Trump as enough of a danger to counteract that.
“We can’t live with a leader that will make this into a dictatorship. We can’t live in a place that is not a democracy. That will be a fall for America,” said LaJoia Broughton, 42, who owns a small business in Columbia, S.C.
“So my vote is with Biden. It has been with Biden and will continue to be with Biden.”
South Carolina Republicans hold their primary on Feb. 24.
With News Wire Services