Former Vice President Joe Biden has won the South Carolina primary, a much-needed bounceback after mediocre showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. While this win was expected, what is surprising is his margin of victory: a nearly 30-point romp that saw him sweep every county across the diverse state.
Polling throughout the campaign had predicted Biden would win and score around 40% of the vote, but on Saturday night Biden won an impressive 48% of the vote to only around 20% for Senator Bernie Sanders and 11% for billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, who spent a small fortune in the state. These results were a massive disappointment for both Sanders (who would have liked to be around 25%, as the polling suggested) and Steyer (who dropped out of the race after the early results came in).
Exit polling from The Washington Post indicated that Biden swept every demographic group in South Carolina except for 17-29 year olds and those who never attend church. Biden won roughly 60% of the black vote (57% of primary voters) and 34% of the white vote (40% of primary voters), wins of around 45% and 11 percentage points, respectively.
Biden ran up the score in the state’s more rural and diverse counties, especially in the border areas with eastern North Carolina and the Florence area. He performed the worst in staunchly Republican upstate South Carolina as well as the Greenville-Spartanburg metro area; the closest county for Sanders was Pickens, which Biden won by five percentage points (33%-28%). With the low vote totals in this area and staunchly Republican character of the region, it is worth considering the possibility that some crossover votes made an impact here, although not much of one.
With the upcoming primaries on Super Tuesday, Biden will certainly hope to continue his momentum. Biden will shoot up to second in the delegate race with the delegates gained in South Carolina and will have an outside shot to take the lead from Sanders depending on the results of the Super Tuesday primaries. One thing is for certain, though: the Biden campaign isn’t dead just yet.