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After struggling in Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire, Joe Biden’s campaign gained momentum Saturday evening and decisively won South Carolina.
Bolstered by support from the state’s African-American population, Biden easily bested Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the stalwart progressive who came into Saturday’s contest in the lead for the Democratic nomination.
The win comes at a crucial time for the Biden campaign. After coming in fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and a distant second in Nevada, he reportedly saw South Carolina as the last chance to inject some energy into his campaign.
The win comes at a crucial time, with a large chunk of important states voting this upcoming Tuesday. Dubbed “Super Tuesday,” more than a third of the total delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination will be up for grabs. In total, 14 states will cast their votes, including California, Texas and Virginia.
With results still coming in, Biden claimed that the victory was a turning point for his campaign.
“Just days ago, the press and the pundits declared our campaign dead. But after tonight, it’s clear we are very much alive,” he tweeted.
Sanders comes in second
Bernie Sanders, who came into Saturday’s race with more pledged delegates than Biden, looks set to come in second in South Carolina. However, projections so far indicate that Sanders will finish well behind Biden, with Sanders earning under 20 percent of the vote.
While the final numbers are still uncertain, with 54 delegates up for grabs in South Carolina, Biden could take the lead in the overall race, depending on how many delegates he receives. So far, Biden is projected to win at least 20. For his part, Sanders is already looking ahead to Super Tuesday. On Saturday evening, he is holding a rally in Virginia in an attempt to make inroads with voters before Tuesday’s vote.
Moderates hit Sanders
After Sanders gained a lead following early contests, he received significant pushback from the candidates perceived to be more moderate in the field, like Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. Speaking to a crowd in Virginia after Sanders’ victory in Nevada, Buttigieg said that the nominee’s job was to focus on “mobilizing, not polarizing the American majority.”
These critiques were echoed by Jim Clyburn, the House Majority Whip from South Carolina, who endorsed Biden in the run up to Saturday’s vote. After the results in South Carolina, however, other moderates look to be in a worse position in relation to Biden, making it more difficult to argue that their candidacies represent the best chance to beat Sanders’ progressivism.
According to projections, Tom Steyer came in third, Buttigieg in fourth, while Klobuchar looked likely to finish outside the top five.