Joe Biden Wins South Carolina, Catches Bernie in Delegate Count
It appears that Joe Biden’s campaign is not quite dead yet. Biden took South Carolina by a large margin:
Biden also gained enough delegates to be competitive with Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary delegate count. The current score is:
Last week’s polling had Biden ahead by a scant two percentage points and it was looking very bad, however the 28% actual victory exceeds even the most optimistic expectations and breathes new life into Biden’s campaign. In fact, this surprise could motivate voters to rally around Biden on Super Tuesday, as the candidate most likely to beat Donald Trump. The downside is that Super Tuesday is in two days, and if there is a donation surge, Biden will have little time to spend it.
Tom Steyer, who spent more than $13 million in South Carolina in the hopes of a strong showing, has dropped out of the race. His 11% of the vote was respectable, but he had no hope of parlaying this into success on Super Tuesday. If I were to be cynical, it may have been wise for Steyer to stay in for Super Tuesday to build his personal brand (as many candidates are currently doing, I think), but that is an expensive proposition, and Steyer is using his own money.
To speculate, since there are no winner-take-all states in the Democratic Primary, I anticipate that Biden and Sanders will be neck and neck after Super Tuesday. While polls have Bernie comfortably ahead, Biden’s performance in South Carolina will narrow that substantially.
But it won’t be over. Candidates who receive more than 15% in a state get delegates. Warren and Bloomberg are each polling over 15% in a number of states. So after Super Tuesday, neither Sanders nor Biden will have a majority of the delegates. It will be tough to avoid a brokered convention.
Despite his good showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, and his 26 delegates, Mayor Pete does not have momentum coming into Super Tuesday. With a bit of luck, he will exceed 15% in a couple of states and get more delegates, but without a major influx of cash, his chances of winning are almost nil. However, by staying in, he may be able to negotiate a power position in exchange for his delegates, so I’m thinking he stays in.
Bloomberg needed a huge fail by Biden. His massive ad buys in Super Tuesday states will help him substantially, but his poor debate performance and late entry into the race are stubborn obstacles. But I believe Bloomberg will outperform the polls and he will be in a strong third position and within striking distance after Tuesday. Bloomberg can afford to play the long game since he has zero worries about campaign funding.
Warren looks strong in California and I believe she will get delegates there. She is no longer in a position to win the nomination, but the more delegates she gets, the stronger her position in a brokered convention.
The rest of the field has no shot at this point, look for many others to drop out after Tuesday. Any not mentioned here who are still in the race are simply on “book tour” attempting to enhance their own brand.