The 29th of February isn’t just a special day for our leap year babies, but also the next day in the endless marathon for the Democratic candidacy. So here a brief rundown of everything you need to know and some projections before the last gauntlet prior to Super Tuesday.
South Carolina is a primary state. Unlike caucus states – which reflect largely on who has the most energy among supporters, primaries show broadband support, energetic or not.
By the end of the night, 54 delegates should be proportioned out to the winners of the primary, while another nine delegates known as “unpledged delegates” will be wild cards, supporting the candidate of their choosing. There is a real possibility that we will not know who these nine will support until the Democratic Convention in Milwaukee. Here is the current delegate count going into SC.
Bernie Sanders- 31 Delegates
Pete Buttigieg- 22 Delegates
Joe Biden- 8 Delegates
Elizabeth Warren- 8 Delegates
Amy Klobuchar- 7 Delegates
Bernie and Biden are largely assumed as the winners of the night – the argument is over which one takes the cake. Biden, with only 1/4th of the delegates of Bernie has to make a splash in South Carolina to retain any form of credibility. Critics stress that his performances at the recent debates, characterized by constant gaffs, could backfire as Bernie’s momentum grows. Polling shows Biden in a commanding lead, but shenanigans by some county Republican parties, (taking advantage of the open primary system) could also play a role if the race is closer than expected.
Biden’s campaign is hanging onto a thread, hoping that African American evangelicals – who voted overwhelmingly for President Obama, will continue to support him. Biden has tried to pitch himself as an extension of President Obama’s administration. Though as the clock continues to tick down without any endorsement from Biden’s previous running mate, SC’s patience for Biden could be wearing thin.
If Biden doesn’t win in South Carolina, expect immense pressure for him to drop out and make an immediate endorsement to stop a Sanders’ candidacy.
Energy billionaire Tom Steyer is polling in the third place after pouring over $100 million into both Nevada and South Carolina. He hovers right below the viability threshold. After a poor showing in Nevada, considering the advertising spend, South Carolina will be the litmus test of whether his zero Nevada delegates was due to the Caucus system rewarding energy among voters. His hope is that the primary system rewards his massive spending in a way that caucuses don’t.
If Steyer performs above the viability threshold (%15), expect the Bloomberg campaign to have a stronger showing on super Tuesday.
Expect major drop outs and endorsements within the next 7 days as the race for Vice President continues.