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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Is Biden’s South Carolina primary win a comeback?

Going into Super Tuesday in two days, Biden trails Sanders 56-51 with 1,357 up for grabs in this important week. Democrats worried about Sanders are breathing a tentative sigh of relief -- for now.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (Gerry Broome/AP)

After all the speculation on the choice for the Democratic nomination for president could include a gay ex-mayor, a female Senator and a self-declared socialist, results from the South Carolina primary Saturday now threatens to turn the race into a presidential choice among three white guys in their 70s.

Sure looks that way– for the moment.

Writes Karen Tumulty:

Who would have predicted that, as the race rounds the bend into Super Tuesday, the party’s choices would come down to three white guys, whose ages range all the way from 77 to 78? Now they are trying to figure out which of that trio from the Silent Generation has the best chance of beating another septuagenarian, President Trump, in November.

On Saturday, African Americans in South Carolina reconfigured the race by throwing a lifeline to former vice president Joe Biden, the onetime front-runner who had stumbled in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

Right after Biden’s win, he picked up an endorsement by former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.

“I think he has the best shot of beating Donald Trump and, most importantly, not only winning the presidency but helping us in Senate and House races,” McAuliffe said.

Another former Virginia governor, now Senator, Tim Kaine, endorsed Biden before the primary.

“It is sad to have a President who no one holds up as a role model for America’s kids. By contrast, Joe Biden has exemplary heart, character, and experience,” Kaine, a two-term senator, said in a statement. “I am proud to vote for Joe Biden.”

Virginia, where Democrats now control the governors’ office, the General Assembly and an increasing number of state offices, holds its primary on Super Tuesday.

Tumulty adds:

The next round of contests will effectively be a national primary that includes delegate-rich California, where polls have Sanders leading the rest of the field by 2 to 1. Most critical of the things to watch Tuesday will be how well Biden’s limping campaign fares when it comes up against the massive spending that Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, has been putting on the national airwaves for months.

Another factor is the presence of a handful of other candidates — among them, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg — who are still in the race and splintering off shares of the vote.

Biden currently has strong support among African-American voters, which helped his dominant win in South Carolina and should help in other Southern states like North Carolina, Alabama, and Virginia on Super Tuesday.

But Sanders has a big lead in polls for delegate-rich California where his extreme positions on several issues attract voters among liberal Democrats there.

Super Tuesday provides 1,357 delegates. It’s big, but it’s not the end of the primary race. Some 2,467 delegates remain up for grabs among primaries after Super Tuesday and the contests ran until June. Democrats have 3,979 total delegates and it normally takes at least 1,991 to clinch the nomination.

Biden’s dominating win in South Carolina gave him more than three times the delegates: 36 to 11. He carried every county in the state.  Of the 145 delegates allocated so far, Sanders had 56, Biden 51, Pete Buttigieg 26, Elizabeth Warren 8 and Amy Klobuchar 7.


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