Biden quickly wins South Carolina Democratic presidential primary

South Carolina is once again handing President Biden a ballot box victory.

The Associated Press on Saturday projected that the president would win South Carolina’s 2024 Democratic presidential primary, with the news service making its call minutes after the polls closed in the Palmetto State at 7 p.m. ET.

The quick projection came as no surprise, as Biden was expected to trounce his two long-shot Democratic primary challengers, Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and Marianne Williamson, the best-selling author and spiritual adviser who’s making her second straight White House run.

South Carolina, where Black voters play an out-sized role in state Democratic politics, for the first time led off the party’s official presidential nominating calendar.


Joe Biden campaigs in South Carolina ahead of Democratic presidential primary

President Joe Biden speaks at the First in the Nation Celebration held by the South Carolina Democratic Party at the State Fairgrounds, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.) (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.)

Biden orchestrated an upending of the Democratic National Committee’s long-running nominating calendar to place the Palmetto State first.

“If you ever doubt that the power to change America is in your hands, remember this. You proved it. You’re the reason I am president. That’s right. You’re the reason Kamala Harris is a historic vice president,” Biden emphasized last weekend as he spoke at a major South Carolina Democratic Party gathering. 


Four years ago, the then-former vice president was reeling, after a fourth place finish in the Iowa caucuses and a fifth place showing in the New Hampshire primary. 

Biden rebounded with a distant second place finish to Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada’s caucuses, which was followed by a landslide victory in the South Carolina primary. Biden’s demolishing of the rest of the field of Democratic rivals — boosted in large part by the support of longtime Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina — rocketed Biden towards the party’s nomination and eventually the White House.

Biden and Clyburn at Biden's S.C. primary victory

Then-former Vice President Joe Biden is flanked by his wife Jill and Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, as Biden gives his victory speech following a landslide victory in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary on Feb. 29, 2020 (Fox News)

National Democrats for years knocked both Iowa and New Hampshire — which led both national parties’ nominating calendars for half a century — as unrepresentative of the party as a whole because the states have largely Caucasian populations with few major urban areas. Nevada and South Carolina, which in recent cycles voted third and fourth on the calendar, are much more diverse than either Iowa or New Hampshire.

While Republicans didn’t make major changes to their 2024 schedule, the DNC last year overwhelmingly approved a calendar proposed by Biden to move South Carolina to the lead position. The president and supporters of the new calendar argued that it would empower minority voters, upon whom Democrats have long relied but have at times taken for granted.


Plenty of political analysts also saw the move as a thank you from Biden to Clyburn and South Carolina for the role they played in his 2020 election.

While Iowa eventually complied with the DNC, New Hampshire adhered to a half-century-old state law that mandates their presidential primary goes first.

New Hampshire held its primary for both parties on Jan. 23, and the Democratic contest was unsanctioned by the DNC, with no delegates at stake.

Biden didn’t file to place his name on the New Hampshire primary ballot and didn’t campaign in the state. But he still won over 60% of the vote in the contest, thanks to a well-funded write-in effort by top Granite State Democrats. 

Biden was on the ballot in the Palmetto State, and South Carolina Democratic Party chair Christale Spain, pointing to the president’s dominance in a state where he’s had long ties, told Fox News on Friday that “this primary is contested, but it isn’t competitive.”

And spotlighting the significance of going first in the calendar, she said “it means, for the first time in this country’s history, that Black voters get to have their voices heard first in the process. Not later on. That southern voters get to go first. Rural voters get to go first. So it’s a huge deal.”

Kamala Harris on the campaign trail

Vice President Kamala Harris headlines a Biden/Harris re-election campaign event on Feb. 2, 2024 in Orangeburg, South Carolina, on the eve of the eve of the state’s Democratic presidential primary. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser )

Vice President Harris, on the eve of the primary, highlighted the significance of the state’s new leadoff position.

“South Carolina, you are the first primary in the nation and President Biden and I are counting on you,” Harris said at a campaign event at South Carolina State University. 

“Are you ready to make your voices heard?” the vice president asked the crowd gathered Friday at the historically Black university.


The president enjoys the backing of the DNC as he seeks a second term in the White House, and national party chair Jaime Harrison, back in his home state, told Fox News Digital on Saturday morning in Columbia, South Carolina that part of Biden’s mission in the primary was to shore up support from Black voters, a key Democratic Party constituency that boosted him four years ago.

“This president wanted to send a signal to black folks, not only here in South Carolina, but across the nation, that we see you, we hear you and you matter. That is why it’s important for the president and the vice president and the first lady and the second gentleman to come into a state and to show up even when they know that they’re going to win. And that they’re going to win decisively,” Harrison said.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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