- Biden's victory came at a crucial time for his candidacy for the White House, and helped him minimize the poor results in the first three contests.
- Sanders claimed second place, and congratulated Biden on his first win.
- Billionaire Tom Steyer, who finished a distant third, dropped out of the race Saturday night.
Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden won the the Democratic primary in South Carolina on Saturday, halting Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) winning streak. The contest was also marked by the withdrawal of billionaire Tom Steyer from the Democratic presidential race. Biden managed to win about 60% of the African-American vote in the contest, and more than half of moderates, according to research by the Edison Research Institute.
The final count showed that Biden won 39 of South Carolina’s 54 delegates, and 48.4% of the vote. Sanders, in turn, came in a distant second, with 15 delegates and 19.9% of the vote. Biden’s victory came at a crucial time for his candidacy for the White House, and helped him minimize the poor results in the Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada primaries and caucuses. The result also help boost his candidacy shortly before Super Tuesday, when fourteen states hold their primaries and caucuses at once.
Of the previous three primaries and caucuses, Sanders narrowly lost the delegate count in Iowa, tied in New Hampshire, and won Nevada handily, becoming the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. “We are very much alive,” Biden declared at an exuberant post-election rally. “For all of you who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind— this is your campaign.”
Sanders claimed second place, and congratulated Biden on his first win, stressing that Saturday’s result was not a cause for concern for his supporters. He noted that he still won the popular vote in each of the first three states. “But you can’t win ‘em all,” Sanders said. “A lot of states out there, and tonight we did not win in South Carolina.” Sanders held a rally in Virginia Saturday night, one of the fourteen states that vote on Tuesday.
Billionaire Tom Steyer, after spending millions on television ads in South Carolina— more than all his rivals combined— finished with just 11.3% of the vote and, in no delegates. He announced his withdrawal from the White House race Saturday night.
South Carolina’s primary was the first major test of Democratic candidates with black voters. And while the state gave Biden a victory when he needed it most, Barack Obama’s former Vice President has yet to prove that he has the financial and logistical resources to dramatically expand his campaign in the next 72 hours.
Even before Biden’s victory was declared, rival candidate Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire and former Mayor of New York, announced the purchase of three minutes of primetime network television airtime Sunday night. The speech will reportedly address the coronavirus crisis. Bloomberg did not indicate how much the advertising cost.
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) had already promised to continue in the race, regardless of Saturday’s results. They finished fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively.
Bloomberg hasn’t participated in any of the Democratic Party’s primary or caucus races so far, and is looking forward to getting in the race on Super Tuesday, March 3.