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.