March 3rd, 2024

Why AP called South Carolina for Biden: Race call explained

By Robert Yoon, The Associated Press on February 3, 2024.

President Joe Biden speaks at the Biden campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Del., Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden won the South Carolina primary on Saturday, the contest that revitalized his 2020 campaign and now has given him his first official victory in his bid for a second term.

The Associated Press declared Biden the winner at 7:23 p.m. based on an analysis of initial vote results showing him with a decisive lead in key locations throughout the state. His only challengers on the ballot, U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and self-help author Marianne Williamson, trailed far behind.

Biden is far surpassing the 49% of the vote he received in the 2020 primary against a highly competitive field that included U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana and billionaire Tom Steyer, who poured millions of dollars into the state and dropped out after his third-place finish. South Carolina was Biden’s first victory that year, after placing fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and a distant second in Nevada.

He carried all 46 counties in the primary four years ago, a feat he is so far on track to repeat against a much less competitive field in Saturday’s contest, according to initial returns.

Last month, Biden won the New Hampshire primary as a write-in candidate with a 44-point lead over Phillips, his closest competitor. Iowa and New Hampshire have traditionally kicked-off the presidential primary calendar, as they did this year for the Republicans, but the Democratic National Committee rejiggered the schedule and moved South Carolina to the coveted first-in-the-nation spot at Biden’s urging.

Black voters play a key role in Democratic primaries in the state. U.S. Census figures show that more than a quarter of South Carolina’s population is Black, while Black voters made up half of the Democratic electorate in the 2020 primary, according to AP’s VoteCast survey of voters that year.

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