Biden Defeats Donald Trump in South Carolina Primary by 95% of Votes

COLUMBIA, S.C. – President Joe Biden scored a resounding victory in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary on Saturday, capturing over 95% of the votes cast. The win cements Biden’s status as the party’s undisputed leader heading into a likely general election clash with former President Donald Trump this November.

South Carolina was granted the coveted first-in-the-nation primary status for 2024 after successfully lobbying the Democratic National Committee. The state proved pivotal for Biden in 2020, providing his flailing campaign with a much-needed jolt of momentum after decisive wins here and in other Southern states on Super Tuesday.

This time, Biden faced only token opposition from little-known candidates like Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and self-help author Marianne Williamson. Still, the primary served as an important barometer of enthusiasm for the president, especially among the state’s politically powerful African-American voters who helped propel him to victory four years ago.

By at least one metric, that enthusiasm appears strong. Early voting data showed African-Americans accounted for 76% of ballots cast ahead of election day, a substantial increase over 2020. However, overall turnout seemed headed for a steep decline compared to past primaries.

The lackluster turnout likely reflects a mix of factors. As an incumbent president without a formidable challenger, Biden lacked the drama of a competitive nomination fight to drive voter engagement. Fatigue after four years of nonstop campaigning may also be a contributor. There are also signs that Biden’s standing has eroded among some core Democratic constituencies.

Recent polling by the Associated Press-NORC Center showed the president’s approval rating down to just 42% with African-American adults. That’s a worrying signal for Biden, who will need strong minority support to overcome Trump’s advantages among white working-class voters in key Midwest battlegrounds.

Phillips, who netted around 2,000 votes on Saturday, was quick to seize on the turnout issue. In a statement, he congratulated Biden while asserting that the results pointed to a “lack of voter enthusiasm for a Trump-Biden rematch.”

Biden Campaign Stays Confident

Biden campaign officials pushed back on the notion that voters lack enthusiasm for the president, highlighting the increased share of early ballots from African-American voters. They believe Biden’s case for reelection will only strengthen as voters start to feel the benefits from the robust economic recovery now underway.

“With results still coming in, Black voters made up approximately 76% of the early vote – a significant increase over 2020, where Black voters made up 56% of the primary electorate,” noted Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler.

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Recent GDP and jobs reports have decisively shifted the narrative on the economy after months of high inflation dominated voter concerns. Polls now give Biden positive marks for his handling of the economy for the first time in over a year.

The president received another boon in January when Congress passed his sweeping climate, health care and tax legislation. Analysts say the Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions supporting clean energy and lowering prescription drug costs should prove broadly popular with voters.

In his election night statement, Biden left no doubt that he relishes another shot at Trump, who continues to spread false claims about losing in 2020 due to voter fraud.

“In 2020, it was the voters of South Carolina who proved the pundits wrong, breathed new life into our campaign, and set us on the path to winning the Presidency,” Biden said. Now in 2024, the people of South Carolina have spoken again and I have no doubt that you have set us on the path to winning the Presidency again – and making Donald Trump a loser – again.”

South Carolina Democrats Celebrate New Status

While the general election fight looms, South Carolina Democrats paused to celebrate their state’s enhanced political stature. Jaime Harrison, the DNC chair who hails from South Carolina, said the new slot just behind New Hampshire and Nevada on the primary calendar represented a “badge of honor and pride for so many folks.

State party leaders like Charleston County Democratic Chairman Sam Skardon also cheered the successful execution of the high-profile nominating contest. Skardon praised the many volunteers who put in long hours to make sure things ran smoothly.

“Everyone here volunteered long and hard to make this primary successful and to keep us in the top of the Democratic election cycle for years to come,” Skardon said on Saturday night. “It means a lot for our party. It means a lot for our state.”

With Biden now formally the presumptive nominee once more, all eyes turn to the general election and the looming Trump-Biden sequel. Most polls show the race in a dead heat, suggesting voters could be in for another close finish come November. If so, every vote will count, magnifying the importance of states like South Carolina that have provided the winning margins in the past two contests.

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