Polls opened in South Carolina at 7 a.m. on Saturday for the first formal Democratic presidential primary of 2024. Follow here for live updates.
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.
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.