Joe Biden notched his first election win Saturday in this first-in-the-South state on the strength of widespread support from black voters — a triumph that he’s hoping will propel him on Super Tuesday and then into a one-on-one race against Bernie Sanders.
Biden’s win was announced as soon as polls closed at 7 p.m., based on preliminary results and exit polls showing him with a staggering lead. The victory puts the onetime frontrunner back into serious contention for the party’s nomination against Sanders, who leads the crowded field and likely came in second.
The results from South Carolina also promise to alter the trajectory of the race by damaging the prospects of several other candidates who have failed to demonstrate that they can generate significant support from non-white voters.
The outcome also undercuts the case for the candidacy ofbillionaire Mike Bloomberg, who has spent $500 million since entering the race late in November on the theory that the former vice president would implode.
The former vice president to the first black president counted on the state primary’s majority black electorate to vault him to victory in South Carolina and into the Super Tuesday run of states, where voters of color make up a significant portion of the electorate. After three straight losses, Biden’s South Carolina win enabled the 77-year-old to claim the mantle of comeback kid.
“For all of those, you’ve been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign!” Biden said to cheers at his election night party. “Just days ago, the press and the pundits had declared this candidacy dead. Now thanks to all of you — the heart of the Democratic party — we’ve just won and we won big because of you. And we are very much alive!”
Earlier in the day, Biden stopped by the Phillis Wheatley Community Center polling station in Greenville and predicted a win, but refused to predict a margin. “The bigger the win, the bigger the bump,” he said.
With the exception of Sanders, for Biden’s opponents it’s more like the bigger the loss, the longer the odds going forward.