Biden Hopes to Quiet Critics by Winning Big in South Carolina

As the Democratic nomination race begins, the president faces dwindling support from black and young voters, and an escalating border crisis.

President Joe Biden is expected to secure a significant victory in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Feb. 3 which will allow the incumbent to cement his nomination and sideline both his primary challengers and critics who have raised concerns about his age and performance.

Following the New Hampshire primaries, the Biden campaign has already made it clear that the president is preparing for a potential rematch with his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.

Moving ahead, President Biden aims to boost his support among key voter demographics that played a crucial role in his 2020 race. He is especially emphasizing black voters, considering a recent decline in his polling numbers with that group. In a December AP-NORC poll, for example, only 50 percent of black adults approved of President Biden, down significantly from 86 percent in July 2021.

South Carolina, known as a Republican stronghold with a large conservative evangelical population, holds a special place for President Biden.

During the 2020 nomination race, then-candidate Joe Biden secured his first primary victory in South Carolina because of his close bond with black voters. The win revived his presidential campaign after three consecutive losses in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. In New Hampshire, for example, he finished sixth in 2020 after securing only 8 percent of the vote.

Since then, President Biden has urged the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to prioritize South Carolina—a state known for its greater racial diversity—in the 2024 primary season.

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While many pundits believe this was a good move by the president, it caused confusion and anger among Democrats in New Hampshire, the traditional first-in-nation primary state for both major political parties. President Biden’s supporters waged a write-in campaign for him in the Granite State, although the DNC deemed that contest “meaningless.”

According to Karen Hult, a political science professor at Virginia Tech, the South Carolina primary will give President Biden a chance to reemerge on the national scene and get public attention. It will also underscore his commitment to making the nomination process more inclusive, Ms. Hult told The Epoch Times.

Critics argue that Iowa and New Hampshire, with their large white populations, are not demographically reflective of the country.

The first official Democratic primary, however, presents several challenges for President Biden. This includes mounting criticism from some of his supporters in South Carolina, particularly within the African American faith community, Ms. Hult said.

Recent polls indicate that key pillars of the Democratic base, including black, Hispanic, and young voters, are drifting away from President Biden.

“Especially among African American Democratic males, Mr. Biden is really losing support,” Ms. Hult noted.

This shift can be attributed, in part, to factors similar to those seen among working-class white voters, who have received substantial media attention for leaning toward the Republican Party, she added.

Some African American voters, like Hispanics and Asian Americans, are also influenced by the notion that national Democrats are often seen as overly “woke,” according to Ms. Hult.

“I think this is also weighing heavily on at least some African American voters,” she said.

“Does that mean that a lot of African American men, in particular, are going to vote Republican? Some will, but I think more will simply stay home. And that’s what the Democrats have to worry about. We’ll get a signal of that in the South Carolina Democratic primary.”

President Biden traveled to South Carolina on Jan. 27 to celebrate the state’s new position as the first in the nation on the Democratic Party’s primary calendar.

During a speech in Columbia, he drew a clear distinction between himself and his leading Republican opponent, President Trump. He argued that his predecessor had failed to champion the rights of black citizens and small business owners. But President Trump’s supporters dispute that, pointing out some of his initiatives, such as securing permanent funding for historically black colleges and universities.

Challengers Pose Little Threat to Biden

The winner of the South Carolina Democratic primary will receive the state’s 65 delegates. To win the Democratic nomination, a candidate must secure an estimated 1,895 pledged delegates, according to Ballotpedia.

In addition to President Biden, major candidates on the Democratic ticket 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 Mr. Phillips’s campaign has failed to generate significant momentum or enthusiasm. As a result, they expect him to withdraw from the race following the South Carolina primary.

“I don’t see Phillips ever really catching fire. His candidacy is not being taken seriously,” Ron Klink, a senior policy adviser and former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, told The Epoch Times.

He anticipates that the 2024 election will ultimately shape up as “a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.”

“I still think that there’s an opportunity for Nikki Haley,” who is continuing her battle for the Republican nomination versus President Trump, Mr. Klink added. “A week or two in politics can be a lifetime. Things can change very quickly.”

Border Crisis Emerges as Top Priority

Since last year, President Trump has campaigned on his firm stance against illegal immigration. The border crisis has risen to the forefront in recent months, with record numbers of migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pundits believe this could be a defining moment for the Trump campaign. During a speech in Las Vegas on Jan. 27, President Trump dedicated a significant portion of his 80-minute speech to addressing the issue of illegal immigration.

“Our border has become a weapon of mass destruction … it’s our destruction,” he told his supporters.

Recent polls indicate that President Biden has the lowest approval rating on the issue of immigration. If this issue remains unaddressed, it could pose a significant challenge for the incumbent president in the upcoming November election, according to experts.

“I don’t think [Biden] can take immigration off the table. I think he waited too long for that,” pollster Mark Penn said during an interview with Politico’s Playbook Deep Dive podcast. “But he’s got to neutralize it in some way because of its intensity.”

Immigration has surpassed inflation as the top issue, according to a recent Harvard CAPS-Harris poll. The survey found that 35 percent of respondents ranked immigration as “the top issue facing the nation,” with inflation coming in second at 32 percent.

“Just as a practical matter, he’s running for reelection. He can’t have his lowest rating on the number one issue,” Mr. Penn said.

There have been over 8.5 million illegal crossings nationwide since President Biden took office.

The president has blamed opposition from House Republicans to a deal that would give him more emergency authority to shut down the border. He says he has exhausted all available options.

“I’ve done all I can do,” President Biden told reporters on Jan. 30 when asked about whether he has fully used his executive authority to address the influx of illegal immigrants into the country. “Just give me the power. I’ve asked from the very day I got into office: Give me the Border Patrol. Give me the people, the judges. Give me the people who can stop this and make it work right.”

According to recent media reports, House Republicans, backed by President Trump, are already planning to kill a potential border deal reached in the Senate.

President Trump, in several posts on his Truth Social platform, denounced the plan. “I didn’t need a big, complex Democrat-oriented border bill, which will make Republicans look bad,” he wrote on Jan. 29. “I just closed the border and had, by far, the safest border in the history of our country!”

According to Mr. Klink, American voters are smart and will realize the significant difference between Republicans and Democrats on the border issue.

He criticized House Republicans for obstructing the possible deal.

“The President, the Republicans, and the Democrats in the Senate have addressed [the border issue]. That narrative is behind us now. The question is whether the Republicans in the House will accept the deal,” he said. “That division, I think, is going to play out politically, and you’ll begin to see it in South Carolina.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson reacted to the leaked Senate border deal, whose text has not yet been made public. The deal establishes a daily limit of 5,000 illegal immigrants entering the United States. If the average reaches this limit, the processing of all migrants will be shut down for at least two weeks.

“Any border ’shutdown’ authority that ALLOWS even one illegal crossing is a non-starter. Thousands each day is outrageous. The number must be ZERO,” Mr. Johnson wrote on X on Jan. 29.

Young Voters: Protesters or Supporters?

Recently, young protesters have disrupted President Biden’s rallies on multiple occasions, creating another challenge for the president.

The interruptions to President Biden’s rallies began on Jan. 8 during his speech at Charleston’s historic Mother Emanuel Church. Protesters demanded an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, an area where Israeli forces are continuing to fight back after Hamas terrorists from that area invaded Israel on Oct. 7.

At another campaign rally in Virginia on Jan. 23, centered on abortion rights, President Biden’s 22-minute speech was interrupted over a dozen times by protesters criticizing his handling of the Israel-Hamas war. On both occasions, supporters in the crowd chanted “four more years” to drown out the protesters.

Many young voters express concerns about the situation in Gaza, causing some Democrats to worry about the party’s appeal to younger voters.

“I think the Israel-Palestine conflict has lost President Biden a lot of sway with young voters who are really unhappy with his stance and his policy on this issue,” Amara Phelps, 23, who voted for Joe Biden in 2020, told The Epoch Times during the New Hampshire primaries on Jan. 23.

She said she would not vote for President Biden’s reelection in 2024.

Young voters turned out in record numbers in 2020 and overwhelmingly supported Joe Biden. However, recent polls show a significant fall in the president’s popularity among young voters, with some even placing Donald Trump ahead of Joe Biden in this demographic.

For example, a recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll found that, among voters under 35, the former president now leads President Biden by 37 percent to 33 percent.

But these results are sparking a heated debate among pundits, political strategists, and pollsters about the extent to which one should place trust in these polls.

Polling needs to be taken with a grain of salt, says Kaivan Shroff, Democratic commentator and press secretary for Dream for America, a Gen Z-led nonprofit.

Mr. Shroff told The Epoch Times that President Biden will remain popular among young voters because he’s prioritizing a range of issues that matter most to this demographic, such as addressing climate change, protecting abortion rights, forgiving over $130 billion in student loan debt, and taking steps to prevent gun violence.

“The 2022 red wave that the polls predicted never materialized,” he said.

“Similarly, despite doom-and-gloom polls, Democrats way outperformed expectations in November 2023,” he added, referring to races in several states across the country, including Virginia’s legislative elections, Kentucky’s gubernatorial race, as well as Ohio’s ballot initiatives on abortion rights and marijuana legalization.

“Young voters care about the issues—particularly abortion—and showed up in 2023 to make their voices heard,” he said.

Mr. Shroff, who was an aide on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, also says that the South Carolina primary will provide the opportunity to showcase the true Democratic Party base, which he believes isn’t represented by “caricaturized left-wing campus activists” who interrupt President Biden’s speeches, but rather by the voters who passionately chant “four more years.”

Some Democratic strategists are confident that if the 2024 national election boils down to a choice between President Trump and President Biden, the incumbent will emerge as the preferred candidate among young voters.

Mr. Klink, the former congressman, agrees and says that the Biden campaign will continue highlighting President Biden’s accomplishments.

“Voters will eventually focus on what he has accomplished. Donald Trump, the great contractor and developer who was going to rebuild America, had ‘Infrastructure Week’ every other week during his four-year presidency but didn’t pass a single infrastructure bill. Who passed it? Joe Biden,” he said, praising the president for his commitment to infrastructure development and success in avoiding an economic recession.

“That story is going to be told,” he said.

Janice Hisle contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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