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Thomas Gallatin / Mar. 2, 2020

South Carolina Primary Fallout

Biden's SC win propels him into second place as he closes in on Sanders.

On Saturday, Joe Biden’s “firewall” in South Carolina held, effectively propelling him back into contention for the Democrat presidential nomination. Taking home 49% to Bernie Sanders’s 20% of the vote, Biden got the big win he needed, grabbing 38 delegates and pulling himself within eight delegates of the leading Sanders. Biden’s decisive win also provided a much-needed financial windfall, as his campaign raked in over $5 million in donations overnight. With Super Tuesday on the immediate horizon, Biden is poised to make good on the comeback he has been confidently promising.

In a move that may help to further boost Biden’s comeback effort, Pete Buttigieg surprisingly ended his campaign Sunday afternoon, citing the need for Democrats to quickly coalesce behind one candidate if they hope to defeat President Donald Trump. “The truth is the path has narrowed to a close for our candidacy if not for our cause,” Buttigieg stated in his announcement. “We must recognize that at this point in the race, the best way to keep faith with those goals and ideals is to step aside and help bring our party and country together.”

Recall that Buttigieg had effectively attacked both Sanders and Michael Bloomberg as “the two most polarizing figures” in the Democrat primary. He declared that the choice between them was “one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out.” Clearly, Buttigieg saw no realistic path for him to emerge as the party’s nominee even as he sits with the third-most delegates headed into Super Tuesday. Therefore, he may have been open to working a deal with Biden. Buttigieg may also have his sights set on the Democratic National Committee chair, a position he ran for unsuccessfully three years ago. With his success in winning Iowa and a strong second-place finish in New Hampshire, he now has the national name recognition and credibility he lacked three years ago.

Amy Klobuchar likewise dropped out Monday. Her much-hyped momentum after New Hampshire sure didn’t last long. But she and Buttigieg will both endorse Biden.

In the race between billionaires, far-leftist Tom Steyer is the first out, as he ended his expensive campaign on Saturday with no delegates to show for the millions he spent. Still, he pledged to continue to use his fortune to defeat Trump. “I of course will be supporting” other candidates, he said. “I’ve said from the beginning, every Democrat is a million times better than Trump.”

Looking ahead, while Biden is clearly off the schneid, it all may be for naught if he doesn’t pull out some big wins on Tuesday. Since 1988, the winner of Super Tuesday has gone on to secure their party’s nomination, and with Sanders leading in the polls in California and Texas it will be an uphill battle for Biden to win the day. Biden will need a strong showing to keep pace or Sanders will run away with the nomination.

(Updated with Klobuchar’s exit.)

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