Numerous outlets have projected that Joe Biden is the winner of the South Carolina Democratic primary. As of this writing, Biden holds a commanding lead with over 50 percent of the vote.
With 59 percent of precincts reporting, Bernie Sanders is running a distant second at 19.3 percent. Tom Steyer is in third with 11.6 percent. At this point, no other candidates have more than 10 percent of the vote. Fourth through sixth places are held by Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar respectively.
The former vice president currently leads Sanders by more than 90,000 votes, leading Nate Cohn of the New York Times to predict that Biden will emerge from the primary with more votes than any other candidate even though he lost the first three nominating contests.
The 54 delegates at stake in South Carolina could put Biden back into the lead of the delegate race. Going into the Palmetto State, Sanders had 45 delegates and Biden had only 15. Pete Buttigieg had 26 while Elizabeth Warren had eight and Amy Klobuchar had seven.
So far, Biden is estimated to have won 25 delegates in South Carolina while Sanders has gained six. So far, no other candidates have won any South Carolina delegates.
While the evening is still early, Joe Biden is obviously the big winner tonight. Just a few weeks ago, polling showed Bernie surging and a tight race between the two frontrunners. However, if Biden’s 30-point lead holds, it will exceed even the most optimistic polling of recent days.
Tonight’s poor showing for Bernie Sanders may break the Vermont senator’s momentum going into Super Tuesday. The South Carolina results likely point to a problem for Sanders among black voters, a core constituency of the Democratic Party. The South Carolina election also indicates that Sanders has taken damage from attacks by other candidates and the Democratic establishment and may show that he has peaked.
There are rumors on Twitter that Tom Steyer will be dropping out the race following his disappointing showing and other candidates may soon follow as well. There seems to be no path forward for Buttigieg, Warren, Klobuchar, or Bloomberg even if they have funds to stay in the race.
As other moderate Democrats drop out, Biden stands to gain further. Polling in many states shows that Biden could more easily challenge Sanders if Bloomberg and Steyer dropped out.
Joe Biden’s South Carolina blowout changes the narrative and the state of the Democratic race. The next hurdle will be Super Tuesday next week where we will see if Biden’s strong performance tonight translates into momentum elsewhere.