Hearing from Biden’s voters in South Carolina; Why Joe?

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Mitchell Patterson /THE REVIEW
“I’m gonna win South Carolina,” Biden said during Wednesday’s televised Democratic Debate on CBS. “And I will win with the African American vote.” If Biden was correct, and South Carolina was the litmus test of determining who could reel in the most support from African Americans around the country, then it is important to know why Biden in particular was so popular with South Carolinians.

BY , Executive Editor
AND , Social Media Editor and Staff Reporter

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Long before a single ballot was cast in Saturday’s Democratic Primary election in South Carolina, former Vice President Joe Biden was sure he would win. He had lost, his campaign reasoned, in Iowa and New Hampshire’s primaries because of the majority of white voters there. Biden specifically argued that he would win South Carolina is more representative of America, and that he would win there with African American voters, who constitute nearly 60% of the population.

The UD Student Television Network travelled with The Review to South Carolina, please click here to check out their coverage of the primary. You may view more Student Television Network content by visiting stn49.com.

Indeed, Biden won the Palmetto State handily, securing 48.4% of the vote and 29 delegates. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Biden’s main competitor, trailed in a distant second with 20% of the vote and 9 delegates. In total, Sanders has 56 delegates and Biden now has 49, meaning that Sanders still leads the national race for the Democratic nomination by 7 delegates.

SC9 John Cassidy /THE REVIEW
To celebrate his first primary victory on Saturday, Biden rallied at the University of South Carolina’s volleyball arena.

On March 3, voters in 15 states will take to the polls on a day dubbed “Super Tuesday.” About one-third of the delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination are up for grabs on Super Tuesday, when voters will assign 1,344 of the 3,979 total delegates. Candidates need at least 1,991 delegates to secure the primary.

Super Tuesday, could decide the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee to challenge President Donald Trump for the White House this November. If Biden was correct, and South Carolina was the litmus test of determining who could reel in the most support from African Americans around the country, then it is important to know why Biden in particular was so popular with South Carolinians.

The Review interviewed dozens of voters exiting several polling locations across Columbia, SC, and among those whom we interviewed exiting their polling locations, there was not one who did not report voting for Biden. Some refused to disclose who they had cast their votes for, but among those, many still expressed fervent support for Biden in follow-up questioning.

To celebrate his first primary victory on Saturday, Biden rallied at the University of South Carolina’s (USC) Volleyball Arena in Columbia. His speech was only a brief twelve minutes. It was preceded by a quick introduction by Clyburn, who set the character-focused tone of the evening.

“If Americans ever cease to be good, America will cease to be great,” Clyburn said, referencing Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous 1838 book, “Democracy in America” in order to argue that America’s worth as a nation is dependent upon the moral character of its citizens. “This campaign, this year, is about the goodness of America, and we have, as our candidate, a real good man.”

Biden himself said little to nothing about his policies specifically, but instead focused on his character, his experience and his Democratic bonafides. He made a veiled reference to Sanders, who has been criticized for running as a Democrat when he’s actually an independent.

“If Democrats want a nominee who’s a Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, a proud Democrat, an Obama-Biden Democrat, join us,” Biden said. “We have the option of winning big, or losing big. That’s the choice.”

This seems to be the kind of rhetoric South Carolinians wanted to hear. Among voters interviewed in Columbia, few cited Biden’s policy proposals, but most cited Biden’s character and his time serving as Vice President to President Barack Obama as key selling points.

“If he’s good enough for Obama, then he’s good enough for me,” Clyde Holliday, 70, a local pastor and a clinical social worker, said. “Ultimately, as a democrat, we have to look to November and who has the best chance of getting in the White House.”


While some who voted for Biden favored his experience in the White House, their reservations about other candidates stemmed from a policy standpoint. When asked who their second choices were, voters invariably gave support for other self-described moderates like businessman Tom Steyer, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.


Columbia resident Luthor Holmes said that Biden’s eight years next to Obama make him look like he’ll be ready to go on day one in office.

“I like Sanders, but I just could not get the math to work out with some of the programs he offered,” Holmes said.

The major policy that pushed Biden over the edge for some voters was his goal to revitalize the Affordable Care Act.

“We knew that when it came out, it was not perfect,” Bishop Ronnie Elijah Brailsford, the presiding prelate of the 20th Episcopal District, said. “And neither was medicare, social security, or any of those major changes. We’ve had to tweak all of them over the years and I believe the Affordable Care Act is moving in the right direction for this country.”

One of more prominent trends among South Carolinians was the wariness of progressive candidates.

“I believe that healthcare is a right and it should be affordable to all people,” Clyde, who described himself as generally center-left but also conservative on certain issues, said. “[Sanders’ medicare for all] is too revolutionary and it’s not going to sell here.”

Biden claimed he won South Carolina because it is more representative of the country as a whole, whether that’s true, whether Biden can win the hearts and minds of voters in hotly contested states with his character and perceived experience, will be determined this week on Super Tuesday.

For more information on the South Carolina primary, please read our in-depth analysis article here.

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