Biden looks for primary payoff after investing in South Carolina

South Carolina will vote on Saturday in President Biden’s first official primary test.

The president has invested heavily in the state, winning New Hampshire’s closed primary as a write-in candidate last month.

Democratic strategists said the attention Biden has given the state should pay off with a landslide victory over two unbeatable opponents.

“His campaign has been really responsive to where the voters are. I’m impressed with his name recognition, the name recognition of his surrogates, his vice president, his secretaries, they’re literally doing their job. ” said Bakary Sellers, a political analyst and former South Carolina congressman who is a Democrat.

Biden led in opinion polls through most of 2019 and entered the 2020 Democratic presidential election as the front-runner in a crowded field. But his campaign suddenly found itself in trouble as he finished fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire.

The South Carolina primary was a necessary turning point for him. He gained support from the influential Rep. James E. Clyburn (D.C.), then serving as the House Majority Whip, and won a comfortable victory, setting the stage for Super Tuesday the following week, which ultimately led to his victory. I got it. Road to the White House.

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, some Democrats are seeking to replace overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire as first voting states with states that better reflect the diversity of the country and the party. requested that the primary election schedule be changed.

In 2022, Mr. Biden announced to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) a new schedule for the primaries, starting with South Carolina on the same day, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire, then Georgia and Michigan. requested to set it up. The DNC approved the change last February.

The move sparked some backlash among New Hampshire Democrats, who had emphasized the state’s historic tradition of holding its first primary. Because the state has a law requiring pre-emption, it went ahead with the primary last month anyway. Despite not officially appearing on the ballot and having no nominee in the primary, Biden won easily with an intensive write-in campaign.

Strategists said Biden is sending a message highlighting the Palmetto State, which should help demonstrate unified Democratic support for his candidacy.

Sellers said Biden will clearly communicate his plans to voters on issues such as criminal justice reform, immigration and the economy, especially Black people in South Carolina, who made up a significant portion of Biden’s support in 2020. He said he was able to do so. This includes states critical to the general election, such as Georgia and North Carolina.

“It’s important for Black voters, especially in January and February, to have the president come and come to their homes, to their hair salons, to their schools,” Sellers said.

Last weekend, Biden began his speech in Colombia. Greetings to attendees He expressed his gratitude to the state at the state party dinner.

“You’re the reason I’m president. You’re the reason Kamala Harris is a historic vice president. And you’re the reason Donald Trump is a defeated former president.” he said. “And it’s because of you that we can win and defeat him again.”

Clay Middleton, a Democratic strategist based in South Carolina, expressed firm support for Biden, considering the state is No. 1 in the nation. “It has become more important to do so.”

DNC President Middleton said South Carolinians appreciate Biden’s role in the new primary election schedule.

“We need momentum to move forward. We’ve been telling people here in South Carolina that it’s important for people to understand that we’re trying to get this thing started.” he said.

Approximately 50,000 people in the state have cast early votes, demonstrating voter enthusiasm for the contest. He expects Biden to win at least a higher percentage of the vote than New Hampshire.

Biden won the Granite State primary by more than 40 points over his next closest opponent, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minnesota). He has waged a long war against him. Phillips, who received 4% support in New Hampshire, and author Marianne Williamson will also be on the ballot in South Carolina.

Middleton has led extensive organizing efforts, including a state party bus tour and visits by Biden delegates such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D). He said he expected high voter turnout across the state.

Democratic strategist Matt Clayton said the primary’s most symbolic significance was a “long-overdue investment” in the “backbone of the party.”

According to , more than a quarter of South Carolina’s population is black. US Census Bureau.

Clayton said that unless investments are made to reflect the voices of more diverse groups in decision-making processes, and efforts are made to appeal to those voters, many places will remain out of reach. He said it would become a thing.

In presidential elections, South Carolina has been a reliably red state for decades and has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Clayton said the new calendar is a step toward giving Black and brown voters a greater voice and creating a more inclusive process.

“That’s going to be the lasting legacy of what’s happening here, beyond the general election and campaigning in general,” he said.

Democratic strategist Jared Leopold said primaries are more symbolic because the electors in them are different from the general election. But he said this is an opportunity to focus on promoting a message that appeals to people.

Leopold said there remains a disconnect between people inside and outside the political world about how the 2024 campaign will play out and the likelihood that Trump and Biden will be the nominees of their respective parties.

Clayton said most Americans don’t pay attention to political developments on a daily basis.

“As we get closer to voting day in November, people will start paying a little more attention, but right now there are a million other demands on people’s time,” he said.

Leopold said the primary is an opportunity for Biden to make the public more aware of the contrast between his record and Trump, and to make less politically minded voters aware of the upcoming showdown.

“South Carolina is a big step for people to realize that it’s going to be Biden versus Trump, and the choice is going to be tough between the two,” he said.

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