In a decisive victory, President Joe Biden clinched a commanding win in the South Carolina Democratic primary, reaffirming his support among key demographics of Black voters and independents. This outcome is particularly significant as it sets the stage for Nikki Haley's challenge against Donald Trump in the upcoming Republican primary.
Biden faced minimal opposition from Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips and author Marianne Williamson. Yet, this win, following a surprising write-in success in New Hampshire, serves to quell doubts regarding his reelection campaign, amidst internal party concerns over his age and economic policies.
The race was quickly called for Biden, just 23 minutes after polls closed, while he was attending a campaign meeting in Los Angeles. In a swift response, Biden's campaign issued a statement emphasizing his economic achievements and recalling South Carolina's pivotal role in revitalizing his 2020 bid.
Biden secured a remarkable 96.2% of the votes, a clear testament to his strong foothold in the preliminary results. This victory counters the narrative of a disengaged Democratic base and bolsters Biden's bid for a second term, especially given his advanced age of 81.
Recognizing the crucial role of Black voters in the upcoming elections, Biden focused his primary campaign on addressing their concerns, despite frustrations over issues like voting rights and police reform. In a strategic move, South Carolina was made the first official Democratic primary, echoing his successful 2020 campaign strategy.
Biden's Strategic Engagement
The Biden campaign, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden, made concerted efforts to engage the Black electorate in South Carolina. This was complemented by the Democratic National Committee's targeted advertising campaign and the deployment of key surrogates like Representative Jim Clyburn.
Biden's decision to prioritize South Carolina in the primary calendar was praised by Democratic leaders, recognizing the increased influence of Black voters, who constitute a significant portion of the state's Democratic electorate.
A week before the primary, Biden highlighted the economic progress under his administration, cautioning against potential setbacks under a Trump presidency. However, Trump's lead in key swing states, as per recent polls, underscores the challenges Biden faces.
The lower turnout in this primary might benefit Haley in her bid against Trump in the Republican primary on February 23. With South Carolina's open primary system allowing cross-party participation, Haley could attract independents and moderates to challenge Trump's significant lead in the GOP polls.