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Can Saturday’s South Carolina primary save Biden’s campaign

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Posted at 11:33 PM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-28 23:33:29-05

The first three nomination races have not gone well for former Vice President Joe Biden. The once frontrunner for the Democratic nomination has struggled to attract voters to the polls thus far.

But Saturday’s primary in South Carolina could be what the doctor ordered for an ailing campaign. Or it could be what brings the campaign to a halt going into Super Tuesday.

POLLS CLOSE AT 7 P.M. ET ON SATURDAY.

South Carolina represents the most delegates (54) that have been up for grabs in a nominating race so far. It is also far more diverse than Iowa and New Hampshire. While Biden was hopeful a more diverse electorate would improve his fortunes in Nevada, he watched as Sen. Bernie Sanders won in convincing fashion last week.

Still, Nevada was Biden’s best performance of the three races so far, but his second-place finish only showed how much ground he has lost to Sanders.

DELEGATE COUNT THROUGH FEB. 28:

SANDERS: 45
BUTTIGIEG: 26
BIDEN: 15
WARREN: 8
KLOBUCHAR: 7

1991 NEEDED TO WIN THE NOMINATION

Polling for Saturday’s primary indicates South Carolina could put Biden back into the mix as Democrats prepare for the most important night of the nomination on Tuesday.

Monmouth University released a South Carolina primary poll on Thursday indicating Biden was leading the pack with 36%. The poll showed that Sanders and Tom Steyer were jockeying for second with 16% and 15% respectively. 15% is a key figure for the race as it is the threshold to receive delegates – anything less results in a goose egg.

Helping Biden’s standing with the black vote was this week’s endorsement from Rep. Jim Clyburn. Clyburn, the third-most powerful Democrat in the House, has been one of South Carolina’s most recognizable Democrats for decades.

“I know Joe Biden. I know his character, his heart, and his record. Joe Biden has stood for the hard-working people of South Carolina. We know Joe. But more importantly, he knows us,” Clyburn told voters this week.

Following Saturday’s race is Super Tuesday when one-third of all delegates are up for grabs. The night could be intriguing for several reasons.

One is the foray of Mike Bloomberg into the race. He sat out the first four nominating contests, and has spent a fortune of his own money to advertise in delegate-rich states such as Texas and California.

Super Tuesday also could provide clarity on which candidate or candidates will take on Sanders deep into the nominating race.

Finally, it could give an indication on whether Democrats need to prepare for a brokered convention. As Democrats allocate delegates proportionally, having a candidate such as Sanders come away with a majority of the delegates by July's convention could be a challenge.