The Associated Press called the race for President Biden at 7:26 p.m.
The other major Democratic candidates on the ballot were Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and author Marianne Williamson.
While the primary outcome was not surprising, it’s expected to send a clear message to President Biden’s Democrat challengers and those who have raised concerns about his age and performance.
Some observers said that turnout appeared lower than usual.
During the primary election weekend, President Biden did not make a visit to the Palmetto State. Vice President Kamala Harris held a rally the day before the primary at South Carolina State University.
She took aim at former President Donald Trump, arguing that “he fights for himself.”
“There are extremists across our country who have been inspired, encouraged, and even cowed by the former president,” she said.
South Carolina is an open primary state, allowing any registered voter to participate in either party’s primary election but not both. This setup has led to speculation that certain Democrats may opt to delay casting their ballots in the Republican primary on Feb. 24 for Nikki Haley in an attempt to influence the outcome and hinder Donald Trump’s candidacy.
President Biden’s South Carolina triumph follows his unusual write-in victory in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary on Jan. 23, which the Democratic National Committee will not recognize due to a conflict between the party and the state over the timing of the contest.
After pressure from President Biden, national Democrats changed the rules to make South Carolina, not New Hampshire, the first Democratic presidential primary state in 2024. In response, President Biden’s supporters waged a write-in campaign for him in the Granite State, even though the DNC deemed that contest “meaningless.”
Democrats argue that South Carolina, with its diverse population, is demographically more representative of the nation.
The Palmetto State, traditionally a Republican stronghold with a significant conservative evangelical population, holds a unique significance for President Biden. During the 2020 nomination race, then-candidate Joe Biden clinched his first primary victory here, largely due to his strong support among black voters. The victory proved crucial in reviving his presidential campaign following three consecutive losses in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada.
“In South Carolina, it was South Carolina that put President Joe Biden and me on the path to the White House,” Ms. Harris told her supporters during the rally.
Moving ahead, President Biden aims to win back the hearts of key voter demographics that helped him clinch victory in 2020. Recent polls indicate that key pillars of the Democratic base, including black, Hispanic, and young voters, are drifting away from President Biden.
In addition, he is facing enormous pressure to tackle the border crisis, as immigration has risen to the forefront in recent months, with record numbers of migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
—Emel Akan, Nathan Worcester, and Lawrence Wilson
President Biden to Opt-Out of Super Bowl Interview Again
President Joe Biden has declined again to take part in the traditional Super Bowl interview.
The decision comes as his reelection campaign gets underway.
CBS News, which won the broadcasting rights to the NFL championship game, made the announcement on Feb. 3, the day of the South Carolina Democratic Primary.
President Biden made the same decision in 2023, agreeing to sit down with NBC and CBS but not Fox.
The interview would have aired before the game began, and according to CNN, the president’s advisers said the decision was made to give people a break from election matters.
Super Bowl LVIII kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 11.
Ghost Town in Irmo as Polls Close
About half an hour before the polls closed at an elementary school in Irmo, South Carolina, no voters could be seen entering or exiting the premises.
Up until that point, 116 people had visited the polling place, according to poll workers.
Signage advertised curbside voting, accompanied by a phone number for a man named Tyrone.
But Steven Williams, the lone voter who arrived during The Epoch Times’ vigil, found it hard to locate both the polling place and the right door.
“My wife went to try to vote early. And it wasn’t in our normal spot,” he said, adding that voter accessibility could be improved.
Mr. Williams did not hesitate in choosing his candidate.
“It was gonna be Biden,” he said.
He had some kind words for Nikki Haley, saying she was fine as South Carolina’s governor and that he could imagine voting for her.
Not so with former President Donald Trump.
“He’s repulsive to me,” Mr. Williams said.
Polls in South Carolina Now Closed
As the clock struck 7 p.m. Eastern, polls across the Palmetto State closed, bringing an end to the “First in the Nation” Democratic Primary.
The polls opened at 7 a.m. Eastern and South Carolina Democrats had a choice between President Joe Biden, Rep. Dean Phillips (D–Minn.) and Texas Author Marianne Williamson. The fate of 55 delegates is at stake tonight.
While New Hampshire has normally hosted the first-in-the-nation primary, the Democratic Party decided to break from tradition and make South Carolina this election’s first official stop.
While voting still occurred in New Hampshire, no delegates were awarded.
The Horserace Gets Wild in South Carolina
Not far from the interstate, at the Buncombe Horse Trail Trailhead, Cindy James showed off her horse, Stetson.
“I’ve had Stetson for about four years because my other horse passed away,” she told The Epoch Times near a horse trailer where two of her friends were sitting.
Ms. James doesn’t plan to vote in the Democratic primary today–and, while she liked former President Donald Trump’s leadership, she prefers her former governor, Nikki Haley.
“Trump knows how to run a business and he knows how to run the country. What hurts Trump is his manners, his mouth, and how he handles and reacts to stuff,” she said.
National politics was a sideshow to another drama unfolding nearby: three young women’s horses had bolted and run off down the road.
The trio rode back to the trailhead as Ms. James and her friends were talking. They’d caught their steeds–Woody the thoroughbred, Pumpkin the Arab mix, and a gray mustang named Maverick–thanks to some strangers who had driven them around until they found the runaways.
“He was like, ‘Imma get wild!’” Pumpkin’s rider Jade said of Maverick.
Biden Gives Campaign Speech from Delaware: ‘We Cannot Lose This Campaign’
Just hours before voting booths were set to close in South Carolina, President Joe Biden gave a campaign speech along with Vice President Kamala Harris from their campaign’s headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware.
“This is not just a campaign,” he said to a crowded room of staffers, supporters, and fellow politicians. “This is more of a mission. We cannot, we cannot, we cannot lose this campaign for the good of the country. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
“It’s not about me, it goes well beyond me.”
The incumbent also took a moment, once again, to try to antagonize his Republican opponent.
“The guy we’re running against, he’s not for anything. He’s against everything,” he said, adding that President Trump’s campaign is “even worse” than it was in 2020.
This out-of-state speech on the evening of South Carolina’s primary follows President Biden’s decision to hold a pro-choice rally in Virginia on the day of the New Hampshire primary instead of being with the Granite State voters.
DNC Chair Against Voting for Nikki Haley
Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison summed up his thoughts about fellow Democrats casting their vote for former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley later this month instead of showing up on Feb. 3 to choose their Democratic candidate: “Oh, hell no!”
“So you don’t get to dictate to Black voters in SC who suffered under both Trump and Haley and tell us you must choose one of these rotten MAGA apples.”
The “you” in his statement was directed toward the Director of Defending Democracy Together, Bill Kristol, who made the argument that choosing to vote against former President Donald Trump in the Republican Primary on Feb. 24 would be more effective than “running the score up” for President Biden.
“Voting today for Joe Biden will [do] nothing–nothing!–to stop or damage Trump,” Mr. Kristol wrote on X. “The one chance South Carolinians have to make a difference this year is to vote against Trump on Feb. 24.”
Mr. Kristol is not the only one to have made this argument, and several New Hampshire voters admitted their vote for Ms. Haley in the first-in-the-nation primary was really a vote against President Trump.
But Mr. Harrison, former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, remained steadfast in his opinion.
“Today on February 3rd in SC, Black voters will do what we always do and that is pick a candidate who sees us, hears us, but most importantly values us,” he said.
In 2022, South Carolina Improved Election Integrity
COLUMBIA, S.C.—Changes to South Carolina election law were implemented in 2022 to strengthen election integrity.
One provision of the law, South Carolina Act 150, combats voter intimidation by limiting the use of electronic devices in and around polling sites.
Cell phones and cameras may not be used within polling places, and images and sound may not be recorded, with some exceptions.
Reporters and photojournalists must have permission from polling authorities to take photos while inside a polling place and may not take closeups of voters or poll workers. Press interviews must be conducted outside the polling site and only after the interviewee has voted.
The change was implemented in response to intimidating behavior observed at some polling sites by persons identifying themselves as journalists.
“Some people would say they were press and then take pictures of everything, including the voting machines and close-up pictures of voters’ faces,” Travis Alexander, director of voter registration for Richland County, told The Epoch Times.
While that had not occurred in Richland County, Mr. Alexander said all counties now use the same guidelines for press access to polls.
“We want to make sure voters aren’t intimidated,” he said. “We want them to feel comfortable.”
Early voting was sanctioned by Act 150 and limited to 12 days.
“Early voting has been going on in South Carolina for a long time. It just had a different name,” Xiaodan Li of Hilton Head told The Epoch Times.
“Prior to 2022 we had absentee voting with excuses, so absentee voting days are actually 29,” said Ms. Li, who immigrated from China eight years ago and helped to author the law as a volunteer.
“I started paying attention to what’s going on in the states and I basically researched all the election laws and all the official forensic audits and then realized there are a lot of loopholes in our system,” she said. “It’s a much tighter system now.”
Other provisions of Act 150 make it a felony to vote or attempt to vote fraudulently, vote more than once, request more than five absentee ballot applications or return more than five absentee ballots, not counting one’s own, or to accept or provide anything of value to request or return an absentee ballot.
—Lawrence Wilson and Nathan Worcester
Trump Embraces ‘Outsider’ Status in New Video
Former President Donald Trump still thinks of himself as an outsider in Washington and is encouraging his supporters to embrace that label too.
“Treat the word ‘impossible’ as nothing more than motivation,” he says. “Relish the opportunity to be an outsider and embrace that label. Being an outsider is fine. Embrace the label because it’s the outsiders who change the world and who make a real and lasting difference.”
The former president has long positioned himself as a disruptor of the Washington establishment, vowing to “drain the swamp” and “Make America great again.”
And he may get a second chance to do so. Despite compounding legal problems and court cases, he is currently on track to clinch the Republican presidential nomination for a third time.
Black Voters No Democratic Bloc: Poll Worker
GREENVILLE, S.C.—Yvonne Julian, a Republican working the polls at Southside High School in Greenville, South Carolina, rejects the narrative that the black vote is destined to remain a Democratic bloc.
“A black man came here today to bring his mom, who wanted to vote Democrat, and he says, ‘Well, I’m not gonna vote today because I’m voting in the Republican primary,” the African American GOP activist told The Epoch Times outside the polling place.
Black Democrats, including Vice President Kamala Harris, have leaned heavily on race while campaigning for President Joe Biden in the state, including in Feb. 2 speeches at a historically black school in Orangeburg, South Carolina State University.
“People are actively trying to prevent us from voting. What was once Dr. [Martin Luther] King’s fight has now become our fight, our cause, and our mission,” said Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison in remarks ahead of Vice President Harris in Orangeburg.
Ms. Julian found the idea that President Biden is some mandatory choice for black Americans “extremely insulting.”
“They have said that for decades,” she said.
South Carolina Early Voting Is Lower Than Absentee Totals of Prior Years
The total number of ballots cast ahead of South Carolina’s first presidential primary is down significantly, according to data published by the South Carolina State Election Commission.
Because prior presidential preference primaries did not include early voting, it is impossible to make a direct comparison. However, inferences can be drawn by comparing the total absentee vote of a prior election with the about 51,600 combined early and absentee votes cast ahead of the 2024 contest.
It is important to note the Republican Party did not hold a primary in South Carolina in 2020. At the time, it wanted to protect the candidacy of then-President Donald Trump. Both parties had a primary in 2016.
According to the commission’s records, about 77,500 absentee ballots were cast in 2020. That’s about 50 percent more votes than the 2024 total of votes cast ahead of the election.
In 2016, when both parties held presidential preference primary elections—on separate days— about 114,700 absentee ballots were cast. That’s about twice the number of total ballots cast ahead of the 2024 Democratic primary.
President Joe Biden is expected to win the South Carolina primary. He won the 2020 contest.
Greenville a Lonely Town for Democrats
GREENVILLE, S.C.—In one of the most Republican areas of a solidly red state, what’s it like for a Democrat?
“Lonely,” said Sandra Hamann, who spoke to The Epoch Times after voting at Greenville’s Southside High School in the Democratic primary.
“I was looking for my neighbor to come in. We’ve got to stick together,” she added.
Ms. Hamann was one of a small number of Democrats trickling in and out of the polling place.
She believes President Joe Biden, the man who got her vote, has the nomination in the bag.
“He won’t lose to Trump. And he’s not a bad candidate. And as for age, we’re the same age so I’m not going to use that against him,” Ms. Hamann said.
In her view, Republican criticisms of “Bidenomics” are misplaced.
“No matter what Fox News says, the economy is fantastic,” she said.
Biden Would Lose to Trump, Beat Haley in Hypothetical Matchup: Poll
A new YouGov poll shows that President Joe Biden would lose by a slim margin in a hypothetical rematch against former President Donald Trump if the presidential election were held today.
The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 45 percent of respondents preferred President Trump, compared to 44 percent who preferred his successor. But if the race were between President Biden and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, President Biden would win 39-38 percent.
As for who respondents believed would win in November, regardless of their preferences, the results were more decisive. In a face-off between the two presidents, voters picked President Trump to win by an 11-point margin (47-36 percent). A Biden-Haley matchup, on the other hand, would result in a 38-32 victory and a second term for President Biden.
Other key findings of the poll include that more Americans have a favorable opinion of President Trump than Ms. Haley (44-34 percent), and that more view him as a strong leader.
Moreover, there was not a single issue on which respondents said they thought Ms. Haley would do a better job than President Trump. In total, there were only two issues on which respondents said neither candidate would do a good job: abortion and LGBTQ issues.
The poll was conducted Jan. 24 through Jan. 30 with a 4-point margin of error.
Haley Campaign Labels Biden, Trump ‘Grumpy Old Men’
As President Joe Biden seems sure to coast to victory in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary, the Palmetto State’s one-time Republican governor is likening him and former President Donald Trump to rivals John and Max.
Drawing inspiration from the 1993 comedy starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign is attacking the pair for their age and asserting they are no longer mentally fit to hold the highest public office in the country.
President Biden, 81, who was the oldest president ever at 77 when inaugurated in January 2021, and Donald Trump, 77, are both committing verbal gaffes on the campaign trail.
A new digital campaign that debuted at the end of January, called Grumpy Old Men, highlights other verbal missteps made by the 45th and 46th presidents in recent months.
“We need to know that our leaders are at the top of their game and these grumpy old men are not passing muster,” Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokeswoman for Nikki Haley for President, said in a release.
On the campaign trail, Ms. Haley, former US Ambassador to the UN and the governor of South Carolina, is positioning herself as younger, more electable, and distant from the legal and political morass surrounding President Biden and President Trump.
Ms. Haley is the last Republican rival challenging President Trump for the 2024 Republican Party presidential nomination. While she is taking in a large amount of donor money and is promising to keep up her campaign into the spring, she has yet to beat President Trump in a primary contest.
She finished third in the Republican Party of Iowa’s Jan. 15 caucus, behind President Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and finished in a closer second place in the Jan. 23 New Hampshire primary.
Mr. DeSantis dropped out of the race within a week of his Iowa loss. He went on to endorse President Trump.
Voter Access Challenges
HOPKINS, S.C.—Some voters at Lower Richmond High School in Hopkins, S.C., had difficulty identifying the voter site for their precinct. “I think they’re trying to confuse voters today,” voter Natalie Wilson said.
Approximately 20 voters arrived at the polling place in a half hour this morning. A few were unused to voting at this site.
“We’ve got 149 precincts in Richland County. Some of those precincts are combined at different polling sites,” Valerie Moore, Democratic party chair for the county told The Epoch Times. “For this primary, we’re down to 49 polling sites, and a lot of people do not know where to vote.”
Ms. Moore said the election commission has done well in publicizing the polling locations, but many voters do not have internet access or don’t think of checking online to verify their polling site.
“That’s a real challenge for us,” Ms. Moore said. “We’re trying to call people in our base and make sure they know where they go.”
Phillips Wins Ballot Challenge in Wisconsin
Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) started the weekend off on a high note after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered Friday that his name be added to the state’s Democratic primary ballot.
In Wisconsin, a selection committee comprising top election and party officials decides which candidates will appear on the ballot. That panel did not include Mr. Phillips’s name on the list, prompting him to petition the state’s high court for relief.
The candidate argued that the committee flouted state law in failing to even consider whether he qualified for the ballot.
In its Friday ruling, the state’s Supreme Court agreed, waving aside the committee’s claims that Mr. Phillips took too long to seek redress.
Wisconsin law, the court noted, “assigns one task to the Selection Committee—to determine which candidates have candidacies that are ‘generally advocated or recognized in the national news media throughout the United States.’… The Selection Committee is granted discretion in determining whether a particular candidacy meets that standard, but it is statutorily mandated to perform that analysis.”
Yet at its Jan. 2 meeting, the committee accepted the one name submitted by the Wisconsin Democratic Party for the ballot—President Joe Biden—with “no discussion about Phillips or any other Democratic presidential primary candidate,” the justices wrote. “The entire meeting lasted just over five minutes.”
With time running out to submit the certified list of candidates to local election officials, the court ruled that Mr. Phillips’s name be placed on the ballot rather than handing the matter back to the committee.
“Thank goodness democracy is being protected by the judiciary, because our political parties are eroding it right in front of our eyes. I’ll keep exposing the truth and saying the quiet part out loud,” Mr. Phillips responded in an X post.
Wisconsin’s presidential primary election is set for April 2.
RICHLAND, S.C.—Voter turnout was slow at Meadowfield Elementary School in Richland, S.C., for the Feb. 3 Democratic primary election. One voter was present when polls opened at 7:00 a.m., and seven had voted in the first 30 minutes.
“I’m a little disappointed in the turnout and all the complaints about who’s on the ballot. But nobody wants to do anything about it,” Thomasina Michael, 67, of Richland said. Ms. Michael and her husband John, 68, voted for President Joe Biden.
Biden Eyes Big Win in South Carolina
Biden is projected to win the South Carolina Democratic primary today, which will likely cement his candidacy and silence his rivals and critics who question his age and competence.
Following the New Hampshire primary, the Biden campaign has indicated that the president is preparing for a potential rematch with Trump.
Moving ahead, Biden aims to win back the hearts of key voter demographics that helped him clinch victory in 2020. Recent polls indicate that key pillars of the Democratic base, including black, Hispanic, and young voters, are drifting away from Biden.
The president is facing a decline in support, particularly among black males, similar to trends observed among working-class white voters, says Karen Hult, a political science professor at Virginia Tech.
Some African American voters, along with Hispanics and Asian Americans, are also influenced by the perception that national Democrats are overly “woke,” she adds.
The winner of the South Carolina Democratic primary will receive the state’s 65 delegates. In addition to Biden, major Democrat candidates include Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and author Marianne Williamson. The Minnesota congressman came in second in New Hampshire, gaining nearly 20 percent of the vote.
Some Democrats believe Phillips’s campaign has failed to generate significant momentum or enthusiasm. As a result, they expect him to withdraw from the race soon.
South Carolina Democrats Find Themselves at Election Crossroads
COLUMBIA, S.C.—Democratic voters will enter the voting booth in the state’s primary election on Saturday driven in nearly equal parts by an aspiration for a better future and apprehension about the effect of a second Trump administration on their lives.
Jamie Harrison, 47, chair of the Democratic National Committee, captured the mood of a group of mostly black voters in Florence on Feb. 1. “This election is about hope versus fear, progress versus chaos,” he said to scattered responses of yes and amen.
South Carolina Democrats, 51 percent of of whom are black, appear ready to proclaim President Joe Biden their nominee for a second consecutive election.
They are not unaware of the risk involved in supporting an aging chief executive. Yet many are hopeful that this president will continue to make their daily lives more tolerable and their future more inviting.
Yet beneath that hope lies a deeply rooted fear that allowing President Donald Trump to regain the White House would turn back the clock on gains in civil liberty and prosperity made not in a single presidential term but over a lifetime.
VP Harris, Top Black Democrats Stump for Biden in South Carolina
A day before South Carolina’s open Democratic primary, Vice President Kamala Harris made the case for President Joe Biden and against former President Donald Trump at South Carolina State University (SCSU), a historically black college and university (HBCU).
“HBCUs are centers of academic excellence,” said Ms. Harris, a graduate of Howard University, another HBCU.
“In South Carolina, it was South Carolina that put President Joe Biden and me on the path to the White House,” she said. Under the Biden administration, Democrats have attempted to move South Carolina to the front of the party’s primary schedule.
She also took aim at President Trump, arguing that “he fights for himself.”
Even as Republicans accuse Democrats of weaponizing the Department of Justice against conservatives, the vice president alleged that President Trump has said he has an “intention to weaponize the Department of Justice.”
“There are extremists across our country who have been inspired, encouraged, and even cowed by the former president,” she said.