Biden wins South Carolina Democratic primary; Steyer drops out of race

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Joe Biden has scored a resounding victory in South Carolina’s Democratic primary.

Joe Biden is looking for his first primary win in South Carolina. (Source: Pool, CNN)

The former vice president rode a wave of African American support to a Saturday win that ended Bernie Sanders’ winning streak and offered badly needed momentum for Biden’s unsettled White House bid.

Biden won about 60% of the votes cast by non-white voters, dominating a crowded Democratic field among a group that made up more than half of the electorate. He also performed strongly with older voter and self-described moderates.

That’s according to AP VoteCast, a wide-ranging survey of more than 1,400 voters in South Carolina’s Democratic primary.

The top finish came in a do-or-die campaign that followed three underwhelming performances.

Biden’s win could force his moderate rivals out of the race and work to blunt front-runner Sanders’ momentum heading into Super Tuesday, when 14 states and American Samoa weigh in on the race. Those contests offer enough delegates to put the nomination clearly in one candidate’s favor.

Sanders finished second in South Carolina but is better positioned than Biden for the next series of primaries.

Only Biden and California billionaire Tom Steyer planned to mark primary night in the state, as the rest of the field stumped across the spectrum of Super Tuesday states that vote next week.

About 40% of voters in South Carolina picked health care as the top issue, while 22% said the economy and jobs are most important. That’s according to an AP VoteCast survey of the electorate. Fourteen percent of voters identified climate change.

Close to 9 in 10 Democratic voters said it’s important for their nominee to be a strong leader.

Biden thanked South Carolina voters in a tweet shortly after the polls closed: “Thank you, South Carolina!” He says, “To all those who have been knocked down, counted out, and left behind — this is your campaign.”

Biden's South Carolina watch party erupted when The Associated Press and television networks called the state's primary for him.

The Columbia scene, with more than a thousand supporters filling the University of South Carolina's volleyball gymnasium, was quite different compared to that in Iowa and New Hampshire just weeks ago.

Biden's Iowa crowd was late arriving and obviously relieved when a meltdown of the caucus count spared Biden having to acknowledge his fourth-place finish. In New Hampshire, Biden wasn't even there for his fifth-place finish, having bailed on the state to speak in South Carolina.

Biden finished his tweet by saying, “Together, we will win this nomination and beat Donald Trump.”

Tom Steyer ends Democratic presidential run

Tom Steyer is dropping out of the Democratic presidential race.

The billionaire activist made the announcement Saturday night after a disappointing finish in the South Carolina primary. Joe Biden notched his first primary win in the state, while Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders finished second.

Steyer said that at this point, “honestly, I can't see a path where I can win the presidency.”

He said he got into the race because he didn't think racial injustice was being addressed in the country. He said he will continue to work to address that issue. He also thanked his supporters and pledged that he would never forget South Carolina, where he focused most of his presidential efforts.

“The people who have endorsed me have stood up in a very red state where I have seen things that have broken my heart,” Steyer said.

He added: “I’m not leaving. We are already working to figuring out ways to make sure that we stay in South Carolina.”

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Biden's South Carolina watch party erupted when The Associated Press and television networks called the state's primary for him.

The Columbia scene, with more than a thousand supporters filling the University of South Carolina's volleyball gymnasium, was quite different compared to that in Iowa and New Hampshire just weeks ago.

Biden's Iowa crowd was late arriving and obviously relieved when a meltdown of the caucus count spared Biden having to acknowledge his fourth-place finish. In New Hampshire, Biden wasn't even there for his fifth-place finish, having bailed on the state to speak in South Carolina.

Biden finished his tweet by saying, “Together, we will win this nomination and beat Donald Trump.”

Tom Steyer ends Democratic presidential run

Tom Steyer is dropping out of the Democratic presidential race.

The billionaire activist made the announcement Saturday night after a disappointing finish in the South Carolina primary. Joe Biden notched his first primary win in the state, while Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders finished second.

Steyer said that at this point, “honestly, I can't see a path where I can win the presidency.”

He said he got into the race because he didn't think racial injustice was being addressed in the country. He said he will continue to work to address that issue. He also thanked his supporters and pledged that he would never forget South Carolina, where he focused most of his presidential efforts.

“The people who have endorsed me have stood up in a very red state where I have seen things that have broken my heart,” Steyer said.

He added: “I’m not leaving. We are already working to figuring out ways to make sure that we stay in South Carolina.”

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.