Check back for updates. Polls are now closed and former Vice President Joe Biden has been declared the winner in South Carolina.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the winner immediately after polls closed in the Palmetto State. Cable and television networks called the race based on exit poll data, nearly all of which pointed to Biden.
Biden’s victory gives his campaign a huge boost after disappointing showings in presidential contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Biden placed fourth Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and second in Nevada.
South Carolina handed him his first victory in the presidential contest – and in any of his previous presidential runs – giving him a much-needed boost heading into the important Super Tuesday elections on March 3.
Biden’s victory ends the winning streak of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who prevailed in the first three contests. Biden had predicted he would win South Carolina, brushing aside questions about whether he would drop out of the race if he did not.
“I will win South Carolina,” he promised during a Democratic debate Tuesday night. “And I will win with African American vote.”
He was right on both counts. Biden garnered strong African-American support in the state, aided by the much-coveted endorsement of Rep. James Clyburn.
Biden led polls in the Palmetto State by 20 percentage points last fall before placing fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire.
Biden downplayed those early contests, focusing on more diverse states such as South Carolina, which he argued would better gauge which Democrat should challenge President Donald Trump.
– Michael Collins
Klobuchar says she’s ‘heading into Super Tuesday’
Speaking at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sen. Amy Klobuchar indicated she had no intention of dropping out before voters in that state and 13 others cast their ballots on March 3, when about a third of the delegates are for the taking.
Klobuchar said people “predicted I wouldn’t make it through the summer, and then I wouldn’t make it to the debates.”
“But here I am heading into Super Tuesday,” she said.
As Klobuchar delivered her remarks, she trailed every candidate except Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in the South Carolina primary with 3% of the vote.
Buttigieg: ‘I am proud of the votes we’ve earned’
Former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg told supporters he was proud of the votes he’s been able to earn across the country, offering an optimistic path forward after a defeat in South Carolina’s primary.
From Raleigh, N.C., Buttigieg congratulated former Vice President Joe Biden on his decisive victory in the state.
“I am proud of the votes we’ve earned and I am determined to earn every vote on the road ahead,” he said before noting that running for president “is an exercise in hope and humility.”
Buttigieg is currently third in the national delegate count with 26 delegates. He was surpassed by Biden Saturday after the South Carolina race.
Buttigieg had always faced an uphill battle in South Carolina, a key contest to gauge black voter support. For most of the campaign, Buttigieg has stayed in single-digit support with black Democratic voters.
– Christal Hayes
Biden claims victory: ‘Thank you, thank you, South Carolina!’
Joe Biden said his win proves you can always get back up after being knocked down.
“You brought me back,” Biden told South Carolina supporters, singling out congressman Jim Clyburn for special praise. “We are very much alive.”
Biden said Super Tuesday gives Democrats a choice, and he is the one who can beat Donald Trump.
Biden did not specifically mention Bernie Sanders by name but did note that his opponent does not belong to the Democratic party.
“The Democrats want a nominee who is a Democrat!” Biden said.
He also repeated his anti-Sanders mantra that people don’t want a “revolution,” they want “results.”
“We need real changes right now!” he said.
The victory rally had a Barack Obama-esque feel to it, in terms of music (“Move on Up”) and chants.
At one point, the crowd revived an Obama standard by chanting “Fired Up! Ready to Go!”
They also gave Biden his own chant: “Let’s Go Joe! Let’s Go Joe!”
Biden cited his family, including his late son Beau and his beleaguered son Hunter, as well as others who have helped him in a political career now nearly a half-century-long.
He pledged that “the days of Donald Trump” will “soon be over.”
Coming back around to the people of South Carolina – and to congressman Clyburn – Biden told his supporters he loved them.
“All the Bidens thank you,” he said.
He closed by saying, “here’s the deal: Let’s get back up! … Take back our country!”
– David Jackson
Biden surpasses Sanders for popular vote
Former vice president Joe Biden has surpassed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the popular vote in the Democratic primary after a landslide win in South Carolina.
After being projected to win the South Carolina popular vote by a large margin, combined with the first four early voting states, Biden now has a slight lead, according to NBC.
Sanders has repeatedly boasted about his previous popular vote lead, especially during the Iowa caucus debacle, where his campaign ultimately came in second to former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg in delegates.
Biden is slightly trailing Sanders in the delegate count after taking fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire, and second in Nevada.
Tom Steyer ends presidential campaign
Billionaire Tom Steyer announced the end of his presidential campaign after another poor showing in South Carolina’s primary contest.
In a speech Saturday night, Steyer, 62, thanked his supporters and campaign staff, touting that he “has zero regrets.”
“There’s no question today that this campaign, we were disappointed with where we came out,” Steyer told the crowd. “Honestly, I can’t see a path where I can win the presidency.”
Steyer’s decision comes just days ahead of Super Tuesday, where 14 states and one U.S. territory will weigh in on the Democratic primary. He is one of several candidates that some have argued should leave the race to consolidate votes around top-tier candidates.
Despite the tens-of-millions he pumped into the Palmetto State, it was unclear whether Steyer was projected to earn any delegates in South Carolina by the time he had dropped out. He had not won any delegates in the first three contests.
Steyer declared Saturday that meeting the people of South Carolina and America was “the biggest highlight” in his life.
“When the Lord closes a door, he opens a window,” Steyer said passionately. “I will find that window and crawl through it with you, I promise you that.”
— Christal Hayes, Savannah Behrmann and Rebecca Morin
Sanders projected to place 2nd in S.C.
Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to place 2nd in South Carolina’s primary, coming in behind former Vice President Joe Biden.
The prediction is still a boost for Sanders who maintains a lead in the national delegate count.
Projections show Biden will receive at least 20 delegates from South Carolina, while Sanders will get at least six.
The race boosts Sanders’ count to at least 51 delegates, ahead of Biden, who moved up to second place with at least 35 delegates.
There are 3,979 pledged delegates from all states and territories, and a candidate needs 1,991 of them to win in the first vote at the Democratic National Convention.
—Christal Hayes and the Associated Press
Bloomberg campaign doesn’t appear worried about Biden victory
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn’t going anywhere.
His campaign appeared to tap down concerns that after former Vice President Joe Biden’s decisive victory in South Carolina, Bloomberg’s name on the ballot in the next batch of primary contests will divide the moderate vote and bolster Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign, who is leading the national delegate count.
“Mike Bloomberg has not been on the ballot yet. Our campaign is focused on organizing Democrats and building infrastructure in states all around the country,” campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said. “Mike is the only candidate to campaign in all fourteen Super Tuesday states over the last two months and we look forward to Tuesday. Mike’s record of successfully leading and managing through crises and challenges is exactly what Americans are looking for in a new President.”
At a speech in Charlotte, N.C. hosted by the state’s Democratic party, Bloomberg doubled down that he was the candidate to beat Trump.
“I am running to defeat Donald Trump. I am running a campaign for change,” he said, noting he was not a “typical politician.”
“I’m not someone who just yells slogans when they’re not true,” he said.
He made the worsening coronavirus the central part of his pitch to North Carolina Democrats, saying the president’s role in leading the nation was “endangering lives.”
– Christal Hayes
Warren says her campaign built for ‘long haul’
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is looking to Super Tuesday after a disappointing night in South Carolina.
Speaking to supporters at a political rally in Houston, Warren offered her congratulations to former Vice President Joe Biden, who won the South Carolina primary.
Warren appeared headed for a fifth-place finish in the Palmetto State. Those disappointing results come after less-than-stellar showings in earlier contests in Iowa, where she placed third, and New Hampshire and Nevada, two states where she placed fourth.
“I’ll be the first to say that the first four contests haven’t gone exactly as I’d hoped,” Warren said.
But with Super Tuesday just three days away, Warren said she is looking to gain as many delegates as she can for the party’s national convention in July.
“It might take days or even longer to know the full Super Tuesday results,” she said, “but they will be critical in sorting out who our nominee will be this year.”
“Our campaign is built for the long haul,” she said, “and we’re looking forward to these big contests.”
– Michael Collins
Sanders: ‘now we head to Super Tuesday!’
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., acknowledged former Vice President Joe Biden’s victory but looked ahead to performances in other states as it became likely he would finish in second place in South Carolina.
“I want to congratulate Joe Biden on his win tonight, and now we head to Super Tuesday!” he said at a campaign rally in Norfolk, Va.
Sanders said he was proud of his campaign for winning Iowa’s popular vote, the New Hampshire primary, and Nevada caucuses, but “you cannot win them all.”
“A lot of states out there, and tonight, we did not win in South Carolina. And that will not be the only defeat. There are a lot of states in this country, no one wins them all,” he said.
Polling has showed Sanders ahead in several delegate-rich Super Tuesday states like California and Texas. More than a third of all delegates will be allocated when Americans next vote on Tuesday.
– Nicholas Wu
Will Biden carry momentum to Super Tuesday because of early voting in those states?
Millions of ballots have been cast in early voting for multiple Super Tuesday states, which may impact Biden’s ability to capitalize on the momentum from his South Carolina win.
The reason Super Tuesday is so significant is that there are 1,344 delegates awarded out of the 14 states and one territory from just that day, or about 34% of all pledged delegates.
Some states with many delegates up for grabs have been in early voting stages for weeks, including California and Texas, meaning Biden’s win could influence voting results in Super Tuesday states days before the day arrives.
According to some recent polls, Sanders is holding a lead in both California and Texas, while billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who has spent hundreds of millions of his own dollars in Super Tuesday, is only slightly trailing Biden, who is in second place.
– Savannah Behrmann
Biden to do a three-day Super Tuesday dash to four states
Buoyed by victory in South Carolina, Joe Biden already has his Super Tuesday scheduled mapped out.
Given his limited time, Biden’s focus is on four states: Alabama, Virginia, Texas, and California.
On Sunday, he travels to Selma, Alabama, and Norfolk, Virginia and plans to appear on several Sunday TV shows.
Monday brings a trip to Texas, with visits to Houston and Dallas.
Biden plans to spend Super Tuesday itself in yet-to-be-announced sites in California – his most challenging state, as Bernie Sanders leads polls there.
– David Jackson
Trump says Biden victory should end Bloomberg’s campaign
President Donald Trump wasted no time weighing in on the results of Saturday’s Democratic primary in South Carolina.
“Sleepy Joe Biden’s victory in the South Carolina Democrat Primary should be the end of Mini Mike Bloomberg’s Joke of a campaign,” Trump tweeted just minutes after Biden was declared the winner.
Trump mocked Bloomberg’s performance in last week’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas in which the former New York City mayor was eviscerated by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Trump seemed to suggest that Biden had benefitted from Bloomberg’s shaky performance.
“After the worst debate performance in the history of presidential debates, Mini Mike now has Biden split up his very few voters, taking many away!” Trump said.
– Michael Collins
Former Virginia governor endorses Biden
Shortly after the race was called in Biden’s favor, Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe endorsed the former vice president on CNN.
“I’m going to endorse Joe Biden,” McAuliffe said. “I’ve thought long and hard about this. For me, it’s about beating Donald Trump and to me, it’s an electability issue. Who has the best shot at beating Donald Trump?”
Virginia will be one of 14 states and one U.S. territory that will be up for grabs on Tuesday.
McAuliffe cited healthcare weighing heavily on his decision, explaining he wanted a candidate who would protect Obamacare and build on it. He also explained that Biden had the biggest chance in helping Democrats in House and Senate races, a key issue that some moderates have raised with Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has been leading nationally with delegates after the first three contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
“Joe Biden will be the best person at the top of the ticket,” McAuliffe said.
– Christal Hayes
Polls have closed in South Carolina
The South Carolina primaries have closed, bringing the state one crucial step closer to picking its candidate.
The first-in-the-South primary offers Democratic 54 delegates up for grabs — the most of any of the four early-voting states. And a win tonight could propel a new candidate into the frontrunner position as the race moves toward into Super Tuesday on March 3, when 14 states and one U.S. territory will vote.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is widely seen as the frontrunner in the Palmetto State and could benefit the most from the larger delegate count. He trails U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former South Bend, Indiana, former mayor Pete Buttigieg in the delegate count following contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Bloomberg planning Sunday night address on coronavirus
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is planning to a televised address on the coronavirus, promoting himself as someone with experience to reassure and protect the public.
His campaign said Saturday that Bloomberg will deliver a three-minute message on Sunday night on CBS and NBC. The taped address is titled “Leadership in Crisis” and will air at approximately 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The campaign hasn’t said how much Bloomberg is paying for the commercial time.
In the address, Bloomberg is expected to discuss his “steady leadership” as mayor of New York to the threat of terrorism, as well as a hurricane, the West Nile virus and swine flu.
The announcement comes after President Donald Trump’s update on COVID-19, following the first death from the virus in the United States. Vice President Mike Pence has announced new travel restrictions and warnings.
Trump said 22 people in the U.S. have been stricken by the new coronavirus, and four are deemed “very ill” and that additional cases are “likely.”
– Associated Press
Biden puts Clyburn to work for him in North Carolina ahead of Super Tuesday
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Joe Biden’s campaign said Saturday that Rep. Jim Clyburn, whose endorsement of Biden appears to be playing a major role in today’s South Carolina primary, will also work for him in North Carolina.
Clyburn will stump for the former vice president on Sunday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, of the states holding a primary on Super Tuesday.
“Earlier this week, Congressman Clyburn, the House’s third-ranking Democrat and Majority Whip, known as the kingmaker of South Carolina, announced his endorsement of Biden,” the campaign announcement said.
The notice came shortly after television networks disclosed exit polls showing that the Clyburn endorsement was a major deal for many South Carolina Democratic voters.
According to the survey, 24% of voters listed the Clyburn endorsement as “the most important factor” in their votes – presumably ones for Biden.
— David Jackson
Sanders slams President Donald Trump in rally
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., took the stage in Springfield, Va., slamming President Donald Trump and promising a united, multigenerational, multiracial coalition against him.
“They say Bernie can’t beat Trump – well, I respectfully disagree,” he said, to cheers.
“The only way you beat Trump is a campaign of energy, of excitement, a campaign that brings working people into the political process, a campaign that brings young people into the political process – and I believe we are the strongest campaign to do that,” he said.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who has endorsed Sanders, warmed up the crowd right before, telling the crowd, “our campaign is designed to make everyone visible.”
She touched on the controversy about the online behavior of some of Sanders’ supporters, saying of the campaign’s critics, “they say this is a campaign about Bernie bros – then I’m a Bernie bro!”
The rally filled the cavernous St. James Complex, a field house and athletic center, though other activities went on as usual in the building. People could be seen running on treadmills in the center’s gyms, and the simultaneous hosting of a little girl’s birthday party meant that Hello Kitty birthday party signs were held aloft near to Sanders supporters’ signs.
Sanders had just come from a rally in Boston, Mass., that at least 10,000 people attended.
He was mostly among supporters here in Fairfax County, where Hillary Clinton won by a large margin in 2016.
People lined up outside the door, many wearing Sanders hoodies, beanies, and shirts in the chilly 34-degree weather. Vendors set up along the line of supporters made a brisk business in Sanders paraphernalia, including a “Bernie Yoda” shirt, a nod to the popular character from the Star Wars show “The Mandalorian.”
Madhav Acharya, a 59-year-old IT worker from Luton, Va., told USA TODAY he had supported Sanders so far in the primary and was there to hear from the candidate about his policies. To him, the most important issues were healthcare and education, and Sanders was the only one who promised the best plans for “tuition-free” education and lower medical costs.
Eugene Park, a 28-year-old resident physician from Falls Church, Va., said he was “just here for the enthusiasm,” having already decided to support Sanders.
Some other voters were curious about the candidate.
Susan Sawyer, a 60-year-old federal employee from Alexandria, Va., who currently supported Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said she was there to “observe the event.” She didn’t like Sanders, she said, because “I don’t support socialism,” which she said meant policies like Sanders’ for “free healthcare and education.”
Sawyer had voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 out of concerns about Hillary Clinton, but she now thought Trump was “too divisive.”
She didn’t think she supported Sanders and was instead hoping for a brokered convention.
Polling shows a tight race in Virginia, one of the more populous states that will be contested on Super Tuesday. The state has 99 pledged delegates, more than double the number in first-in-the-nation Iowa.
Nearly half of Democratic primary voters say Clyburn’s endorsement was important
Nearly half, 47 percent, of Democratic primary voters in South Carolina said the endorsement by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., was an important factor in their vote Saturday. Moreover, 24 percent of them stated it was the most important factor in their decision.
Clyburn, the majority whip in the Democratic-led House, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday.
Clyburn said he thought Biden is the best bet for South Carolina and the nation, particularly for African-Americans. Clyburn said the prospect of a second term for President Donald Trump makes him “fearful” for the future.
On Saturday, Clyburn told CNN that now he is “all in” for Biden, he’s “not going to sit back idly and watch people mishandle this campaign,” reiterating the need to “retool” the campaign moving forward.
Biden, who struggled in early primary and caucus states, is looking to South Carolina to revive his campaign.
Clyburn is a living legend in South Carolina politics and has an unparalleled network in the state, particularly among African American voters.
Voters say top priority is defeating Trump
Voters at a polling place at a North Charleston church said their top priority is to defeat Trump in November, but they argued that different Democratic challengers have the best chance to do that.
Carolina Lane, 79, a retired teacher from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, who was handing out Democratic fliers, said Biden’s experience makes him the best bet among the candidates. “We have to get people who have the ability to sit down with world leaders right off the bat,” she said.
Helon Everett, 54, an IT worker from North Charleston who voted at Royal Missionary Baptist Church, said she went with Biden because he is an experienced moderate who can appeal to the middle of the country – something a Bernie Sanders couldn’t do.
“This should be a referendum on Trump,” Everett said. “And it should stay a referendum on Trump and not a referendum on socialism.”
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What to know about Super Tuesday: Why is it so important? What’s a delegate? And what happens at a brokered convention?
Sanders supporters, meanwhile, said Biden represents the status quo, and voters don’t want that.
“I guess I just wanted something different,” said Nicole Gomillion, 35, an IT worker from North Charleston who said young people in particular would respond to Sanders’ messages about eliminating student debt and expanding health care.
North Charleston Democrats who said they voted for Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Steyer said similar things, describing their candidates as agents for change this is needed for the party and the country. They also said they would vote for whoever the Democrats wind up nominating so that they can accomplish job one: Defeating Trump.
“If my dog was the nominee, I would vote for her,” said Jessica Critcher, 31, a Warren supporter who described herself as an “ax throwing instructor” at a local bar.
– David Jackson
Biden calls Trump’s coronavirus language ‘dangerous’
At a political rally Friday night in North Charleston, Trump described the coronavirus outbreak as the Democrats’ “new hoax,” suggesting they were overlooking the effort his administration has made to confront the virus.
On Saturday during a visit to a Greenville polling site, Biden called Trump’s language “absolutely dangerous.”
“Everything’s about him,” Biden said. “I know he’s a stable genius, but it’s ridiculous the thing’s he’s saying.”
– John Fritze, David Jackson and the Associated Press
Sanders campaign says 13,000 people attended Boston rally
BOSTON – Four miles from the Cambridge home of Elizabeth Warren, more than 10,000 people turned out in freezing temperatures Saturday for an outdoor Bernie Sanders rally at Boston Common, three days before Massachusetts’ 91 delegates are up for grabs on Super Tuesday.
With former Vice President Joe Biden the favorite to win Saturday’s South Carolina primary, Sanders looked ahead to Super Tuesday, where he has an opportunity to build a significant overall delegate lead. He was in Springfield, Massachusetts, Friday night and will be in Virginia on Saturday evening before heading to Los Angeles on Sunday.
“As some of you may know, the establishment is getting very nervous about our campaign,” said Sanders, an independent U.S. senator from Vermont, taking the stage after musician Béla Fleck warmed up the crowd with the banjo. “And tonight, they’re going to turn on the TV and they’re going to find that 10,000 people came out to the Boston Common, and they’re going to become even more nervous.”
The Sanders campaign later said more than 13,000 people attended.
In Massachusetts, Sanders is going for a knockout punch against Warren, a U.S. senator from the state, and delegates that once seemed improbable given her home-state advantage. But Sanders, the national Democratic frontrunner, has surged into first place in recent Massachusetts polls, topping Warren 25% to 17% in a survey released Friday by WBUR.
– Joey Garrison
Candidates in South Carolina, Super Tuesday states
Early Saturday, Warren greeted dozens of supporters in Columbia, South Carolina, to kick off a get-out-the-vote canvass launch. The rally was Warren’s final stop in the state. She was expected to attend events in Arkansas and Texas later in the day.
Several other candidates were also headed to Super Tuesday states on Saturday. Sanders held a rally in Massachusetts and was expected in Virginia later. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was expected to be in Virginia, Maine and North Carolina. Buttigieg was headed to North Carolina and Tennessee.
Biden planned to attend an event in North Carolina before returning to Columbia for a primary night party at the Carolina Volleyball Center at the University of South Carolina.
Less than a mile away, Steyer was also expected to hold a primary night party in Columbia. He hosted an event in the same town Friday night featuring performances by rapper Juvenile, singer Yolanda Adams and DJ Jazzy Jeff. Video of Steyer dancing to “Back That Azz Up” at the event went viral on Twitter.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is not on the ballot Saturday, was expected to visit Virginia and North Carolina. His campaign announced Saturday that it planned to host more than 2,400 events across 30 states in advance of Super Tuesday.
— Grace Hauck
Polls open, voting begins
Polls opened at 7 a.m. in South Carolina. Voters were trickling in steadily across the state by late morning with officials expecting voting to pick up around lunchtime and later in the day.
In the drafty, chilly gym of a middle school in Seneca, South Carolina, all four precincts for Oconee County’s most populous city had already received well over 300 votes by 11 a.m.
Two voters, Connie Sanders and Barbara Eastman, are Trump supporters but decided to vote since there is no Republican primary this year. Republican groups in the Upstate have asked loyal Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary for candidates perceived to be weak in opposition to Trump.
Bernie Sanders “is more socialist than anything and I don’t agree with most of his ideas… he’s just not my cup of tea,” Connie Sanders said. She voted for Biden and Eastman for Steyer in an effort to keep Bernie Sanders out of the general election.
Meanwhile in Allendale County, Paige Williams, 37, said she’s worried about education and the character of Trump, but her most pressing concern is health care in rural Allendale County where the hospital is small and access to any medical services is limited and getting worse.
Access to health care in a county with no public transportation is a critical issue for residents, said Gwen Walker, a poll worker at Allendale Community Center.
It’s the state’s most heavily Democratic county, but also the smallest and one of the poorest with median income of $23,300, according to census data. It also has the highest black population in the state with 83% black or African-American and 15% white, according to census data.
– Elizabeth LaFleur and Donna Isbell Walker, The Greenville News