Battered Biden likely to get a boost in county, state
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
Quick: Name the 12 candidates who will appear on ballots for South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary Feb. 29.
That would be Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.
For S.C. Democrats, Biden is the best-known name of the bunch, and most pundits expect him to claim victory in the state’s first-in-the-South Democratic presidential primary.
He needs a win badly; Biden has been battered in early states holding caucuses and primaries. The question is how hard he will have to fight for it – how much strength the other candidates show against him.
It will also be South Carolina’s only presidential primary for this election cycle. The state Republican Party canceled its primary, saying President Trump wasn’t facing any legitimate challengers. (In 2016, about 740,000 people voted in the S.C. GOP presidential primary, while about 370,000 voted in the Democratic primary.)
Any registered voter can cast a ballot in the state’s Democratic presidential primary. (Normally, the rule would be you can vote in either’s party’s primary, but not both – but that’s a moot point this time.)
For Darlington County voters, the Democrats’ presidential primary works just like a typical election: Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Vote in your regular polling place.
But be careful, because several of the people on the ballot have quit the race since ballots were prepared.
Darlington County elections director Hoyt Campbell says each precinct will have posters up, showing the names of the candidates who have dropped out.
Here are the names that will appear on ballots for the Democrats’ presidential primary in South Carolina. We’ve noted which ones are on the ballot but out of the race.
We asked Pee Dee political expert Neal Thigpen, a retired professor of political science at Francis Marion University who admittedly leans Republican, to give us his take on each remaining candidate’s chances:
Michael Bennet: The Colorado senator has quit the race. (Thigpen had rated his S.C. chances as “none.”)
Joe Biden: “The heavy favorite” in the S.C. primary, Thigpen says. “Even damaged (by poor showings in early states), I still think he will win.” Biden has strong support from black S.C. voters, in part because of his eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president, but those voters tend to be older, says Thigpen. Younger black voters might look elsewhere, he says. But despite Biden’s early fumbles, “I don’t think even a terribly wounded Joe Biden could lose in South Carolina” this month, he says.
Cory Booker: The New Jersey senator has dropped out of the race.
Pete Buttigieg: “He’s my wine and cheese candidate,” Thigpen says of the South Bend, Ind., mayor. “He’s a smart guy. He’s the best speaker of the whole crowd.” But he won’t find any traction among black S.C. Democrats, Thigpen says.
John Delaney: The businessman and former Maryland congressman has dropped out of the race.
Tulsi Gabbard: The Hawaii congresswoman is “one of the lesser-known candidates who I thought was pretty sharp … but I don’t think she’s going to do anything here,” Thigpen says.
Amy Klobuchar: The Minnesota senator has “some sparkle,” Thigpen says. “She’s got something. … She’s got a little bit of scattered support here, but no organization. I wouldn’t put any money on her.”
Deval Patrick: The former governor of Massachusetts has quit the race.
Bernie Sanders: The Vermont senator “has got some support here,” Thigpen says. “Stephen Wukela, the Florence mayor, endorsed him.” Depending on how he does in votes leading up to South Carolina, “Bernie could make a race here,” possibly coming in second.
Tom Steyer: The billionaire activist is counting on TV commercials and mailings to gain votes in South Carolina, Thigpen says. “He’s got a bigger TV buy here than anybody. He’s (doing) saturation bombing in terms of TV ads and mailings.”
Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts senator is hard to call, Thigpen says. “She went up (in popularity), then she came down.” He doesn’t see many prospects for Warren in South Carolina.
Andrew Yang: The “job creator” who proposed that the government give each American $1,000 a month is out of the race. (Thigpen had tagged him as a “fringe candidate” who “might get scattered votes here.”)