March 2, 2020

South Carolina Primary

On Saturday, Joe Biden won the South Carolina Democratic primary with 48.4% of the vote. Politico

Following the results, Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg suspended their campaigns. AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left views Biden’s win as an indication of divisions within the Democratic coalition but still sees Sanders as the favorite to win the nomination.

“Historically speaking, South Carolina is an important bellwether state in presidential primaries, because it is typically a strong predictor of how other southern states with large African American populations like Alabama and Louisiana will vote… But it’s important to remember Democratic primaries are not winner-take-all; should Biden win all of those states, he will have to split those delegates with any and all other candidates who receive more than 15 percent of the vote… Biden’s strategy of winning the South may not advance his candidacy in and of itself. To remain a viable candidate, he will also need to do well enough in states Sanders currently leads to receive delegates.”
Zeeshan Aleem, Vox

“Almost half of South Carolina voters said that the endorsement of the longtime African American congressman [Jim Clyburn] was either a critical or one of several key factors in their decision. That is a VERY big deal -- and a sign that there are still some endorsements that actually matter. Clyburn also made clear on Saturday -- before the vote was final -- that even though he had endorsed Biden, he didn't think things were hunky dory in the campaign. ‘I think we will have to sit down and get serious about how we retool this campaign, how we retool the fundraising, how we do the GOTV, and at that point in time many of us around the country will be able to join with him and help him get it right,’ Clyburn said of Biden.”
Chris Cillizza, CNN

Some posit that “Biden also got no small amount of assistance from the national press, which spent the last several weeks having a screaming conniption fit over Bernie Sanders — particularly MSNBC, which is watched religiously by many older liberals. The anti-Sanders bias over the last week was almost cartoonishly blatant; practically every show save Chris Hayes' All In has resembled a strategy bull session for stomping the Sanders movement. Hardball host Chris Matthews had to apologize for comparing Sanders' victory in Nevada to the Nazi conquest of France in 1940…

“Meanwhile, the fact that Biden repeatedly lied over the past couple weeks about having been arrested in South Africa 30 years ago trying to visit Nelson Mandela — part of a pattern of exaggeration and fabrication, which his campaign quietly admitted did not happen — got almost no attention.”
Ryan Cooper, The Week

Others argue that “If Sanders were to win the nomination, his proud connection to socialism and his 50-year record of extremism would be enough to doom his chances. Add to that his unpopular campaign proposals to double the size of the government, sharply raise middle-class taxes, and take private health insurance from 180 million Americans, and you hand the GOP a deadly arsenal of material to use against both Sanders and other Democrats on the ballot… while Super Tuesday is a major marker, about two-thirds of the delegates needed for the nomination will still be up for grabs after that vote… Biden's South Carolina win gives me hope that Democrats will reject Sanders and beat Trump.”
Matt Bennett, USA Today

“We are at an impasse. Can the big tent of the Democratic party continue when progressives are demanding actual, material change while moderates are simultaneously shouting at the top of their lungs, ‘let’s keep things the same.’ The moderates I spoke to in South Carolina had as much a visceral reaction to the name Bernie Sanders as progressives have towards the name Michael Bloomberg. If this division holds, neither progressives nor moderates will be able to build the coalition necessary to defeat Donald Trump in the general election because neither side can win without the other.”
Benjamin Dixon, The Guardian

“Back in the year 2000, incumbent President Bill Clinton and other party heavyweights intervened heavily to push Al Gore’s candidacy and block Bill Bradley. But today the highest-profile Democrats — Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, and congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi — are staying out of the race. This is not how a party apparatus that is serious about blocking Sanders’s nomination would operate…

“If swing-district House members and party elites really want to stop Sanders, their next steps are obvious. The Clintons, Pelosi, and Schumer, and all the Bloomberg backers among the frontline House Democrats, should formally endorse Biden as the best hope for defeating Sanders… They should have done this weeks ago, if their intention was really to stop Sanders, but at the very least they should do so before post-Super Tuesday high-delegate races in Florida, Illinois, Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania. And if party leaders don’t want to do this, that should tell you something about how serious they are about defeating Sanders.”
Dylan Matthews, Vox

From the Right

The right views Biden’s victory as a repudiation of Sanders’s radical policies but still sees Sanders as the favorite to win the nomination.

The right views Biden’s victory as a repudiation of Sanders’s radical policies but still sees Sanders as the favorite to win the nomination.

“If you are a consumer of online political news and commentary, you might have noticed the conspicuous lack of virtually any vocal Biden supporters on social media. Online political journalism is dominated by graduates of elite American colleges and universities between the ages of 25 and 45, who constitute the diametric opposite demographic of Biden’s core support base. I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of people running political magazines, newspapers and websites in the United States have roughly zero Biden supporters in their immediate peer group…

“In Bernie’s case, his distance from the Democratic party label is central to his appeal, among voters who share his disdain of the institutional Democratic party. But there are broad swathes of other Democratic voters — people we might call ‘Normie Democrats’, enormously underrepresented in the online media sphere — who simply do not care all that much about the internecine squabbles between Democratic candidates. They’re not interested in blowout warfare among Democrats fighting over the intricacies of their policy proposals. They simply want, desperately, to beat Trump. And in South Carolina, they predictably settled on ol’ Joe.”
Michael Tracey, Spectator USA

“Until recently, it seemed that the future would be set by an educated elite that was committed to ‘woke’ social issues or socialist politics. In fact, one of the great undercurrents in this year’s Democratic primary was a debate about which of those tendencies should have the upper hand in the future…

“In South Carolina, African-American voters had an opportunity to weigh in on this debate, and instead they went their own way entirely: with experience, with a figure they trust. More than that, they went with a candidate who started his campaign by bragging that he had worked with segregationists in the Senate, and who was attacked over his historic opposition to bussing, and over his support of the Crime Bill. African Americans are supposed to be the ‘revolutionary subject’ of woke politics, but black voters in South Carolina chose the most moderate, ‘least woke’ Democrat.”
Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review

“While 70% of [South Carolina] primary voters said that the next president should either return to Obama’s policies or move in a more conservative direction, just 26% said the next president should pursue policies that are more liberal than Obama. Asked whether all private health insurance should be replaced with a single government plan for everybody, just 48% said it should, compared with 46% who said it should not — meaning Sanders’s signature proposal couldn’t even generate majority support among this Democratic primary electorate…

“Even though there’s still a good chance that Sanders ends up at the top of the Democratic ticket, at least on Saturday, South Carolina Democrats sent a clear message that they want to slow down the socialism train.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

Yet “Biden’s win was more a feature of demographics than a serious comeback… Biden’s landslide win was entirely due to the fact that blacks were 57 percent of all South Carolina voters. The problem is, virtually no state that has yet to vote offers him such favorable terrain. Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi might equal that, and blacks will dominate Democratic electorates in Georgia and the District of Columbia. But that’s it. Blacks will be no more than a third of all voters in other southern Democratic primary states and rarely more than a quarter in northern ones…

“[Sanders] remains the candidate of choice for the young white voters in South Carolina. He is especially strong among Democrats who never attend religious services, beating Biden among this group with 36 percent. These groups will be much larger shares of the electorate in states yet to vote, and there’s no sign Biden will significantly diminish Sanders’s support in these demographics.”
Henry Olson, Washington Post

“It’s not that South Carolina Democrats have a moderate or conservative ideology or policy preferences… When opposing ‘Medicare for all’ or student-debt forgiveness, the black Democrats I spoke with didn’t cite the fiscal cost… Instead, the conservatism behind black Democrat worries was a dispositional conservatism: They distrust rapid change to a complex and precarious situation, a situation they feel has dramatically improved over the course of their lives… These men and women still want progress, but they do not want the last few decades uprooted. They do not want Obamacare or President Barack Obama's other accomplishments overturned, and they do not want to gamble what they have gained chasing after a radical agenda.”
Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.