Joe Biden went into South Carolina expecting a double-digit win, and he did better than anticipated.
Heading into Saturdays primary in South Carolina, Biden had expanded his lead in the polls from 2.3% on Feb. 22, to 15.4% on the eve of election night. Many expected a tight race between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), but much like Sanders did in Nevada last week, Biden cleaned house taking 48.4% of the vote to Sanders’ 19.9%.
Only two candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, were able to receive enough votes to take home any delegates at all. The threshold for delegates is 15%, and the closest to reaching that was Tom Steyer, who received 11.3% of the vote. Every other candidate was in the single digits.
Tom Steyer, who was looked at as a major player in South Carolina, dropped out of the race after it was clear he would not reach the threshold. Even though he didn’t get the result he wanted, Steyer still vastly outperformed many of the “traditional” politicians in the race, including Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.
Of the 54 delegates available, Biden will take 39 while Sanders is awarded 15 for his second-place finish. Sanders still leads in total delegates 60 to 54 after his successes in the first three early contests and Biden’s subsequent disappointments. Nevertheless, Saturday’s big win gave Biden a clear advantage over his moderate counterparts in the race.
The exit polls showed Biden led in almost every category except young voters, even edging out Sanders when it came to “very liberal” voters 39% to 30%. Biden was dominate with black voters, who make up 56% of South Carolina’s electorate, and voters above 45 years old, who make up 70% of the electorate.
The media narrative going in was that Biden would have a good performance in South Carolina, but he earned over 10% more of the vote than what the polls were indicating.
The next elections will be held on Tuesday, and 14 states including Texas, California and Oklahoma will vote to decide who will become the nominee. Texas and California are the two biggest prizes, awarding 228 and 416 delegates respectively. Sanders leads the polls in both states; his lead in California is up to 17%, and his lead in Texas is 8.9%.
Not only is Sanders leading in Texas and California, he also leads in states such as Virginia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Utah, Maine and Colorado. North Carolina polls show Biden with a slight 2% lead, but Sanders is trending upward in that state as well. Sanders also leads the national polls by nearly 11%.
The momentum is behind Biden going into Super Tuesday. The question is: will his lack of a ground game in those 14 states prove inconsequential?
Super Tuesday is March 3 and Oklahoma, along with 13 other states, will all but decide who the nominee is.