South Carolina Democratic primary: live commentary

Live commentary on today’s South Carolina primary, where Joe Biden has surged back to a big poll lead.  Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.   The main general discussion thread is here.

10:49am Tuesday Overnight, Amy Klobuchar also dropped out.  She and Buttigieg will endorse Biden at a rally today.  Biden has risen in California, and is likely to easily meet the 15% threshold for statewide delegates.  The FiveThirtyEight forecast now shows a tossup between Sanders and Biden as to who wins more delegates.

10:45am Monday Pete Buttigieg has quit the presidential race.  This is likely to help Biden, as Buttigieg was one of the moderates.  Without such a crowded field, non-Sanders candidates are more likely to get over the 15% threshold in California, hurting Sanders’ delegate haul.

4:30pm With all precincts reporting, Biden wins by 48.4-19.9.  There were almost 528,000 Democratic votes cast in South Carolina.

3:11pm In the FiveThirtyEight forecast, there is a 60% chance that nobody wins a pledged delegate majority, followed by Sanders at a 28% chance and Biden 11%.  The chance of a delegate plurality is Sanders 64%, Biden 32%.

3:03pm With 96% reporting, Sanders has hit 20%, but Biden has almost 49%.  Over 500,000 votes now in SC, which makes it the largest turnout increase of any state so far, according to Nate Cohn.

2:05pm With 87% reporting, Biden leads by 28.6% in the SC popular vote.  The Green Papers has Sanders gaining two delegates for a 38-16 Biden delegate split.  If only two candidates are viable, as in SC, then half-delegates are the crucial line.  A candidate who is just over half a delegate gets the full delegate, while if they’re just under, they get no delegate.  On the latest results, Biden’s remaining vote fell below a half-delegate in one Congressional District and statewide.

Sorry if the above explanation is confusing!

1:50pm It’s a dismal showing for Buttigieg, Warren and Klobuchar.  Buttigieg has 8%, Warren 7% and Klobuchar just 3%.

1:38pm I recommend The Green Papers for tracking delegate counts.  They currently have Biden winning SC’s 54 delegates by 40-14 over Sanders.  After four states, Sanders still leads the delegate count over Biden by 58-53 with 26 for Buttigieg.  But remember only 4% have been awarded so far!

1:32pm With 69% reporting, Biden has a 105,000 popular vote lead over Sanders in SC.  That’s enough to give him the overall popular vote lead after four states have reported.  Also, Tom Steyer has dropped out of the Democratic nomination contest.

1:17pm With 57% of E-day votes in, it’s Biden 50%, Sanders 19%, Steyer 12%.

12:43pm With 27% of Election Day precincts in, Biden leads Sanders by 52-18 with 12% for Tom Steyer.

12:20pm With 9% of Election Day precincts in, it’s Biden 53%, Sanders 17%, Steyer 12%.  Sanders’ numbers are creeping up as more Election Day vote is counted.

12:12pm NY Times analyst Nate Cohn tweets that Sanders is doing much better on Election Day than postal votes in the ten precincts that have reported both.

12:09pm With 5% of election day precincts reporting, Sanders is up to 15.5%, above the 15% threshold for statewide delegates.

12:07pm Sanders had a big win in last Saturday’s Nevada caucus, but it was Biden who surged before SC.  So the big SC Biden win won’t necessarily help him on Super Tuesday.

11:52am The vote we’ve got so far is mostly postal votes.  Only five election-day precincts are in.  Sanders will hope he does better when more of the election-day vote comes in.

11:45am So far just two counties in initial results – York and Greenfield – where Sanders is above 15%.

11:33am So far, Sanders is at less than 15% in all counties reporting.  If that persists, he would be shut out of delegates.

11:25am First actual results have Biden with 70%, Tom Steyer at 14% and Sanders just 10%.

11:05am Biden CALLED the winner by CNN based on exit polls.  He has a 60-17 lead over Sanders with black voters, who made up 56% of the electorate, slightly down from 61% in 2016.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Polls in South Carolina close today at 11am AEDT.  It’s a primary, not a caucus, so it is handled by the state’s election authorities.  Shortly before the Nevada caucus, the RealClearPolitics poll average had Joe Biden’s lead over Bernie Sanders down to just three points.  But in the last week, Biden has pulled away again, and now leads Sanders by 12.5 points.  There is large variation in the Biden leads, from four points to 21 in individual polls.

Another favourable point for Biden is that in the last two contested Democratic primaries (2008 and 2016), polls in South Carolina greatly understated the victory margin for the candidate with more black support (Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton).

In national polls, Sanders has 29.5%, Biden 18.4%, Mike Bloomberg 15.5%, Elizabeth Warren 12.1%, Pete Buttigieg 10.5% and Amy Klobuchar 5.0%.  Bloomberg and Klobuchar are down on last week, while Biden is up a little.  If Biden has a big victory in South Carolina, will that boost him enough to be competitive with Sanders?

As of South Carolina, only 155 pledged delegates, or 4% of the total of 3,979, will be allocated.  The biggest day of the primaries is three days later.  On Wednesday AEDT, 14 states vote, and 1,357 delegates (34% of the total) are allocated.  The largest delegate prizes are California (415 pledged delegates) and Texas (229).  Polls close from 11am to 3pm AEDT.

Democratic delegates are awarded proportionally, but with a high 15% threshold applied at both the state and Congressional District (CD) level.  So if a candidate is just below the 15% threshold in a large state, that candidate is likely to win CD delegates from variation in their vote share.

In the RealClearPolitics Super Tuesday averages, Sanders has 32.5% in California, followed by Warren at 15.3%, Biden 12.5%, Bloomberg 10.8% and Buttigieg 9.5%.  If this occurs, it will be a BIG delegate haul for Sanders from California.  However, US polls include undecided voters, so it may not be that bad for the non-Sanders candidates. In Texas, Sanders has 26.0%, Biden 20.0%, Bloomberg 18.7% and Warren 13.3%.  Biden needs a major boost from South Carolina to stop Sanders getting a large delegate lead in three days.

One complication for Sanders is that California takes four weeks to fully count all its votes.  Votes counted after Election Day skew heavily left.  Based on Election Day counts, the media could say Sanders had a disappointing night, and this narrative could impact his chances in later March states.

The only reason that Donald Trump has a realistic chance of re-election is the good US economy.  The coronavirus-caused stock market rout last week is bad news for Trump.  If the economy falters on an issue that draws attention to the US healthcare system, Trump’s ratings are likely to fall, and his re-election chances will deteriorate.

288 comments on “South Carolina Democratic primary: live commentary”

Comments Page 1 of 6
1 2 6
  1. Another Irish poll has Sinn Fein at 35%, up over 10% on their Feb 8 election result.

    Europe Elects @EuropeElects
    ·
    49m
    Ireland, B&A poll:

    SF-LEFT: 35% (+10)
    FF-RE: 20% (-2)
    FG-EPP: 18% (-3)
    GREEN-Greens/EFA: 6% (-1)
    LAB-S&D: 3% (-1)
    S-PBP-LEFT: 3%
    SD-S&D: 2% (-1)
    AONTÚ-*: 1% (-1)

    +/- vs. 8 February election

    Fieldwork: 17-25 February 2020
    Sample size: N/A

  2. After today a slew of Democrats need to vacate the race. Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Steyer and Bloomberg (who isn’t competing in SC btw) need to go.

  3. The polls have been suggesting anything from a small win to a big win for Biden. He certainly needs the latter to salvage his campaign.

    The story of today could be what it means for those who finish 4th and below. Steyer needs to perform well (top three) after spending so much in SC. Warren can probably get away with a poor result but I’m not sure the others can, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they all hold on until Super Tuesday (Wednesday) since it’s only a couple of days away.

  4. “After today a slew of Democrats need to vacate the race. Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Steyer and Bloomberg (who isn’t competing in SC btw) need to go.”

    ***

    Bloomberg won’t go after today because he hasn’t even contested a state yet. The others (excluding Warren) probably should “take one for the (establishment) team” and get out of the way if Biden pulls ahead of them. But then again, would Biden have really pulled ahead of the other establishment candidates after just one win and three poor losses? Not really.

  5. About 4 out of 10 of South Carolina Democratic primary voters report attending religious services once a week or more, according to preliminary exit polls. That is much higher than in New Hampshire’s primary earlier this month, in which 13 percent attended weekly and 51 percent never attended.

    In South Carolina, only about 20 percent said they never attend religious services. In New Hampshire, Sanders’s support was about twice as high among those who never attended religious services as those who attended weekly or more often.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/28/south-carolina-primary-live-updates/

    And apparently African Americans made up more than half of Dem voters.

  6. I agree that we won’t see anyone drop out after SC, with Super Tuesday just a few days away. In practice, of course, SC won’t change much, given the small number of delegates on offer, though it still matters a lot for Joe Biden. A big win, and he’s back in the game, a narrow win or an unlikely loss, and he’s probably toast. At a guess, I’d say that the former is the more likely outcome, as more moderate voters (and African-Americans) start to see him as the most likely non-Sanders option. All that said, I don’t think SC will change much – the real action occurs on Tuesday.

  7. From the ‘what could go wrong’ file.

    Democrats’ fourth presidential nominating contest will be held today in South Carolina, where voters statewide will use new, upgraded machines to cast ballots in the last stand-alone primary before Super Tuesday next week.

    South Carolina election officials expressed confidence that their primary will go smoothly, aware of the intense scrutiny they are facing after the chaos of Iowa caucuses, whose results were delayed for days in part because of problems with a mobile app used to report figures to the state party.

    Chris Whitmire, director of public information at the South Carolina Election Commission, said he and his colleagues “feel as confident as election officials can feel on the eve of a statewide election with the eyes of the world upon us.”

    Saturday marks the first time voters across South Carolina will use new ballot-marking devices — voting machines involving a touch screen that produces a printed paper ballot read by a scanner. Experts said that heightened preparations by state officials and strong voter education efforts should help ease the process at the state’s nearly 2,000 polling places.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/what-to-expect-voting-south-carolina-primary-2020/2020/02/28/8ddce4c8-58df-11ea-9b35-def5a027d470_story.html

  8. The 55% black electorate shown in early exit polls is actually down from 2016, when blacks made up 61% of South Carolina’s Dem primary electorate.

    It isn’t exactly a slate of candidates that would inspire increased diverse participation. Particularly if you are in the ‘any democratic candidate’ camp without a strong ‘centrist’ ‘progressive’ frame and preference why wouldn’t you stay home.

  9. I can’t see any candidate formally pulling out following South Carolina – it’s only 3 days to Super Tuesday, and candidates would have poured a lot of effort into those states.

    However, decisions could well be made following SC, but not announced just yet.

    Bloomberg, Biden, Buttigieg, Klobucher, Steyer, Warren …. might all be mulling over what to do.

  10. Apparently the latest polling has Warren coming in a poor second in Massachusetts, her home state

    Polling at less than 20%

    If she fares poorly today I’d advise her to bow out before Tuesday’s vote

  11. I can’t see any candidate formally pulling out following South Carolina – it’s only 3 days to Super Tuesday, and candidates would have poured a lot of effort into those states.

    I agree you’d just be insulting your donors and your team to pull out before super tuesday now.

  12. WTF this must be a parody.

    Katie Glueck, in Columbia, S.C. 2m ago

    The race has been called, and quickly: Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins the South Carolina primary.

  13. Nate Silver explains the quick call in SC

    “From the gender breakdown in exit polls, you can infer an approximate topline of Biden 44-45, Sanders 21-22, Steyer ~12, Buttigieg ~9, Warren ~8”

    Re posted in the correct thread 🙂

  14. CNN has already called it for Biden, even though they have no actual results yet. Probably a pretty safe bet though.

  15. Tony Fratto@TonyFratto
    ·
    18m
    If this South Carolina win for Biden eventually leads to the nomination it’ll be the greatest presidential primary comeback ever.

    More people getting ahead of themselves, plus how the media reporting shapes people’s thinking.

  16. “ After today a slew of Democrats need to vacate the race. Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Steyer and Bloomberg (who isn’t competing in SC btw) need to go.”

    This is a terrible idea Fess. A two horse race between two 80 year olds – one the worst presidential candidate in history and a dope as well, the other the most high risk candidate and recovering heart attack victim. Neither are relevant for the 21st century. They (well at least sleepy Joe) need to step aside & they need to take Lil’ Mike with them.

    Then, without the oxygen being sucked from the room the Democrats may have a chance to chose someone relevant.

    Of course, I predict the opposite will happen. Biden and Bloomberg will keep sucking the oxygen out of the ‘real democrat’ lanes and gift Bernie a plurality.

    Unfortunately Bernie will be too weak to claim a majority of pledged delegates and too divisive to truly unite the party.

    Then there will be the shitstorm of a brokered convention.

    A disaster.

  17. Unfortunately Bernie will be too weak to claim a majority of pledged delegates and too divisive to truly unite the party.

    If California and Texas end up as projected, then the weakness won’t be in Bernie it will be in the DNC and other candidates. If Bernie does on Supertueday more or less as expected and isn’t the nominated candidate then the democrats deserve not just to lose but to be wiped of the electoral map. I wouldn’t be surprised if Justice Dems ran a third party candidate if Bernie performs on Tuesday as expected and isn’t the nominee. And they’d be right to do so.

  18. A_E:

    There are too many candidates in the race and this needs to thin. While I agree with others that it’s unlikely to happen before so-called Super Tuesday, neither Steyer, Buttigieg or Klobuchar are going to win the nomination. Ditto Warren who has been tanking for a while now and should’ve departed weeks ago. The presence of these other candidates is just sucking away votes from the only viable non-Bernie candidate: Biden.

    As for Bloomberg, his candidacy is a vanity project. He’d have been better off targetting his billions running anti-Trump adverts in those key marginal states.

  19. As for Bloomberg, his candidacy is a vanity project. He’d have been better off targetting his billions running anti-Trump adverts in those key marginal states.

    It isn’t at all hard to imagine Bloomberg is in part in the race because he’d prefer Trump to Sanders or Warren. It isn’t impossible that he’d prefer Trump to Biden.

  20. Ironically, this is probably a better result for Sanders in the long run than if he had won the primary. If Biden’s victory ends up being as commanding as it is looking like it will be, then he obviously has no reason to drop out of the race yet. But neither does Buttigeig or Bloomberg or even Klobucher, really, and Warren too is probably justified in holding out until Super Tuesday, at least. (Steyer is surely done for now, though, and Gabbard should have withdrawn weeks ago.)

    They are all going to keep getting in each others way, stopping each other from reaching viability thresholds from state to state, and help Bernie clean up on Super Tuesday. Whereas, if Biden had disappointed in SC, he almost certainly would have dropped out, thereby increased the chances of a clear moderate favorite emerging.

  21. Rick Wilson@TheRickWilson
    ·
    7m
    Two people have important decisions in the next few *hours* that can change the course of history.

    Bloomberg has to decide whether he’s going to focus every dollar on destroying Bernie next few days.

    Obama has to decide if he will make the most vital endorsement of his life.

  22. WWP:

    In my view Bloomberg is in the primaries to try to stop Bernie and if he wins the nomination into the bargain, all well and good. He should drop out now. I mean he isn’t even competing in SC and hasn’t been part of the campaign in any meaningful way.

  23. None of them will pull out before ST – you just wouldn’t do it after SC primary 3 days earlier.

    If 71% of voters in SC were over 45 that suggests Bernie isn’t mobilising the youth vote as some suggest.

    It was reported on CNN that Bernie hadn’t improved his share of black and moderate voters compared to 2016. Not good signs.

  24. the moderate vote may well consolidate behind him on ST.

    It certainly boosts his ‘elect-ability’ claims. Although anyone that praises his recent debate performance, because it was slightly better than humiliating awful, should be locked into a small room.

    It will be interesting to see if the Jim Clyburn effect if repeatable across other States.

  25. Fair point, Adrian, and I can definitely see that as a possibility. But I think the Bloomberg factor in particular will play against Biden – while I can’t see the latter coming out in front after Super Tuesday, he will likely do well enough to heavily split the “anyone but Bernie” vote in a lot of states. Biden’s problem is he just really isn’t a very inspiring candidate, and while his victory here has probably gone some way towards letting him credibly claim to be the most “electable” candidate again (which is pretty much what he’s basing his entire campaign around), I feel like his dismal-to-mediocre results in the first few races has shown that many moderate Democrats still have reservations about him, and I don’t know if a commanding win in a state he was already expected to win big in will be enough to ease those concerns.

  26. If 71% of voters in SC were over 45 that suggests Bernie isn’t mobilising the youth vote as some suggest.

    It was reported on CNN that Bernie hadn’t improved his share of black and moderate voters compared to 2016. Not good signs.

    I’m not sure that the Bernie machine put a huge amount of effort into SC. Steyer shows the money effect. Biden has the Clyburn effect. Warren is very disappointing.

  27. “ The presence of these other candidates is just sucking away votes from the only viable non-Bernie candidate: Biden.”

    Sleepy Joe was never, isn’t and never will be a viable Presidential candidate.

    His hubris is the gift to Trump that keeps giving.

    I’m feel’n the Bern … if it comes to that … sigh

  28. A new group of moderate Dems trying to stop Sanders from winning the presidential nomination is preparing to spend nearly $4 mil hitting the Vermont senator in the final days before Super Tuesday

    This is super super stupid. I was just listening to the Bernie crowd as he graciously acknowledged Biden’s win in SC. The cheer boo split was not 50:50, but he boos were not immaterial. The dem establishment gunning at Bernie will 100% push many Bernie guys right out of the Dem tent. It is insane, and I think it helps Bernie.

  29. Doing the reverse Biden moderate herding calculation, Bernie and Warren have about 25% of the vote, leaving a 75:25 centrist / progressive split in SC, which was pretty much the Hilary : Bernie split. So SC has stayed about the same over the last 4 years. I don’t see how this is a such a big deal. It is insane.

  30. Well listening to Biden, he is a less intelligent, less ethical, less capable Hillary.

    So unless you think the entire reason that Trump beat Hillary was misogyny, the claim this dem insider fool can beat Trump is quite difficult to understand.

    Biden as a nominee or President isn’t going to beat the NRA, he is going to move further to the right and embrace them.

  31. WWP,

    USA is more conservative than Oz. You won’t win the presidency by being radical or revolutionary.

    Bernie is not the answer. He wins the nomination then those in the middle and the independents that you actually need to win the presidency won’t bother going out of their homes on Nov 3.

    Biden has been vice-President and therefore knows what is required.

  32. Andrew_Earlwood @ #39 Sunday, March 1st, 2020 – 12:16 pm

    “ The presence of these other candidates is just sucking away votes from the only viable non-Bernie candidate: Biden.”

    Sleepy Joe was never, isn’t and never will be a viable Presidential candidate.

    His hubris is the gift to Trump that keeps giving.

    I’m feel’n the Bern … if it comes to that … sigh

    It’s been a roller-coaster couple of weeks for you hasn’t it Andrew. Wednesday should bring a bit more clarity.

  33. With 51% counted, the NYT Upshot Forecast needle is currently projecting a Biden margin between +21 and +30 points .. currently on +29

  34. Bernie can’t win the presidency and there needs to be a moderate solution. The only real possibility is Biden, hence he wins.

  35. USA is more conservative than Oz

    I used to believe this. We have a much stronger progressive foundation. It was built by the union movement which is all but gutted in Australia. Even in the Labor party lazy scared centrists rule the roost.

    But they are doing a lot better than US on climate change, and on refugee issues, even under Trump. When asked about actual progressive policy, including high taxes it polls something like 2/3rds. We just elected a useless corrupt bunch of regressive climate change denying, refugee killing, racist far right wing morons. Our case that we are more progressive is looking very very weak.

    Bernie is not the answer.

    I used to agree I strongly supported Hillary over Bernie. I also thought the early field had a lot of candidates far more suited to the role than Bernie. But Warren is doing poorly and the rest have been pushed out by lack of money. Bernie is the only viable candidate left.

  36. Bernie can’t win the presidency and there needs to be a moderate solution. The only real possibility is Biden, hence he wins.

    obvious and important conclusion to draw from a state that the democrats have no chance in hell of winning

    the dems certainly should focus on the electorate in unwinnable states in framing their ‘elect-ability’ project

Comments Page 1 of 6
1 2 6

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *