Former vice president Joe Biden won the South Carolina primary Saturday.

He was boosted by heavy support among black voters, and those over 45-years-old. In South Carolina, those groups made up a larger share of voters than in earlier Democratic contests. Biden also had the highest favorability ratings of all the candidates, according to early exit polls.

After finishing in third place in South Carolina, investor Tom Steyer dropped out of the race.

Tonight’s result is the first real test of whether candidates can appeal to black voters, a core part of the Democratic electorate. African Americans make up about 50 percent of the South Carolina primary voters.

Even as the votes were still being counted, many candidates had pivoted to Super Tuesday states. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) popped over to Little Rock. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) spent Saturday in Warren’s home state of Massachusetts.

Others on the Democratic ballot Saturday include former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii). Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic nomination but is not competing in South Carolina.

4:22 a.m.
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Bloomberg attends ‘Blue NC Celebration’

Bloomberg looks over his notes before speaking and meeting with supporters during the Democratic Party’s “Blue NC Celebration” at the Hilton Charlotte University in Charlotte.

4:02 a.m.
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Buttigieg speaks to North Carolina voters

People gather to hear Buttigieg at a campaign event at Needham Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C. after Biden was declared the winner in the South Carolina primary. The former South Bend, Ind., mayor left South Carolina long before voting results came in, a tacit admission of his campaign’s low expectations in the state.

3:23 a.m.
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Buttigieg looks ahead to Super Tuesday

RALEIGH, N.C. — Buttigieg’s message to a vocal North Carolina crowd Saturday was clear: Ignore South Carolina. We are looking ahead to Super Tuesday.

“I am proud of the votes we earned,” Buttigieg said. “And I am determined to earn every vote on the road ahead.”

Buttigieg read off teleprompters, which he has done on other primary nights. But unlike those nights, when he spun results his way, Buttigieg hardly referenced what — at the time of his remarks — was shaping up to be his fourth-place finish in South Carolina. Buttigieg, who had won delegates in each of the first three states to vote, looked certain to go without them Saturday. He congratulated his competitors. And he talked about the “American majority” to which he always refers, using that majority to suggest he is not planning to leave this race soon.

“This is the majority we will seek to energize into Super Tuesday and beyond, welcoming new allies as we go,” Buttigieg said. His location, too, spoke to the campaign’s eagerness to move past its worst showing of the campaign and on to Super Tuesday. After a few quick stops near Columbia on Saturday morning, Buttigieg hurried to Nashville, where he addressed a crowd of 3,000 in another Super Tuesday state. He then headed back to Raleigh for some more television interviews before his rally.

Former Obama assistant and Duke basketball star Reggie Love introduced Buttigieg and was booed when he gave a shout out to his fellow Blue Devils. In true political fashion, however, Love compromised: He nodded to the Tar Heels and local North Carolina State Wolfpack, too. The crowd cheered him for that, willing to forget old rivalries for some momentary unity.

Love’s speech was slower and less upbeat than most introductions, and it funneled to a fundraising plea. The Buttigieg campaign has been asking supporters to help raise $13 million by Super Tuesday. As of an afternoon update sent by the campaign, it had raised 70 percent of that.

What followed Love was one of the loudest roars from a crowd Buttigieg has received since his final stop in Iowa, as an expectant audience welcomed a man who hadn’t stopped in their state in 2020. Early in his remarks, he thanked black voters in South Carolina for “showing us that famous southern hospitality over last year — welcoming us into their homes and churches and neighborhoods and businesses.”

Then Buttigieg launched into an elevated version of his stump speech, talking about the new challenges the next president will address — including “pandemics crossing borders” — and the need for a new approach. “We can’t go on with a politics that has us at each other’s throats instead of having each other’s backs,” Buttigieg said. “We can’t go on with a politics that defines us by who we voted for in the past instead of what we can achieve together in the future.”

Buttigieg also spoke of his time in the military in a new way, explaining that period of his life as one in which he “came to terms with the limits of certainty in this life.” He said his service was also when he “faced the fact that just because I wasn’t asked didn’t mean I shouldn’t tell.” Buttigieg came out after he served.

When Buttigieg wrapped up his remarks, he thanked the crowd. His walk-off song, “Around the Bend,” played. Then Buttigieg picked up a mic and said he was going to take questions because everyone had “waited so patiently” for him. He answered a few, then hurried off to catch his charter flight to Georgia. He’ll have breakfast there with a former president and first lady, Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter, on Sunday morning.

2:25 a.m.
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Steyer has dropped out of the presidential race

Steyer says he is ending his presidential campaign, after finishing third in South Carolina.

Steyer, one of two billionaires in the Democratic presidential primary race, spent more than $150 million in television advertising across the early nominating states. He had invested more heavily in Nevada and South Carolina than some of the other candidates had, and some polls in January had shown him surging into the top tier of candidates.

But he came in fifth in Nevada, and early results showed he remained under the threshold to capture national delegates in the South Carolina primary.

“I was in this race to talk about the things I cared most about and continue to care most about,” Steyer said Saturday night.

“Look, I got in late to this race,” Steyer, 62, said in a recent CNN town hall. “We’re now moving toward the states where we are going to build the kind of diverse coalition” needed to beat Trump.

Steyer announced his campaign in July, after initially declaring last January that he would not enter the race. He is the founder of two political organizations, NextGen America and Need to Impeach, through which he supported Democratic candidates and ballot initiatives and led an impeachment movement against President Trump. Though he had never held elected office, Steyer campaigned on his private-sector business experience and his ability to organize people on a large scale.

“As an outsider, I’ve led grassroots efforts that have taken on big corporations and won results for people,” Steyer said in a statement that accompanied his launch video. “That’s not something you see a lot of from Washington these days. That’s why I’m running for president.”

Forbes estimates Steyer’s net worth at $1.6 billion, mostly made through his longtime hedge fund, Farallon Capital, which he sold in 2012. As other candidates struggled to raise funds and qualify for debates, Steyer outlasted several sitting governors and members of Congress.

2:03 a.m.
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Biden thanks South Carolina voters: ‘We’ve won big because of you’

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Addressing a joyous crowd of supporters after his decisive win in the South Carolina primary Saturday night, Biden declared his campaign “very much alive” and expressed his gratitude to Palmetto State voters for giving him a much-needed boost.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you, South Carolina!” Biden told a cheering crowd in the state’s capital. “For all those who’ve been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign! Just days ago, the press and pundits declared this candidacy dead. Now, thanks to all of you, the heart of the Democratic Party, we’ve just won, and we’ve won big because of you. And we are very much alive!”

As he spoke, the crowd broke out into chants of “Let’s go, Joe!”

Biden then repeated a message he had hammered home in the last week or so, saying that South Carolina traditionally launched campaigns, including that of former president Barack Obama. Biden declared South Carolina had now helped launch his own campaign “on the path to defeating Donald Trump.”

Standing beside him was Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose last-minute endorsement of Biden this week gave the former vice president’s campaign momentum. Preliminary exit poll results showed that nearly half of South Carolina primary voters said Clyburn’s endorsement was an important factor when it came to deciding to vote for Biden.

“This year is about the goodness of America. And we have as our candidate a real good man,” Clyburn said Saturday night, before he introduced Biden at his victory speech. “And we are blessed with a candidate who understands what it is to restore the goodness that exists in this great country.”

Biden gave Clyburn a warm embrace upon taking the stage.

“My buddy, Jim Clyburn, you’ve brought me back!” he shouted. “This is a man of enormous integrity.”

Without naming his opponents, Biden told the crowd that he was running as a “lifelong Democrat, a proud Democrat, an Obama-Biden Democrat” — a possible dig at Sanders or Bloomberg — and emphasized he was the best candidate to take on Trump in the general election.

“Winning means healing the country, not sowing more division and anger,” Biden said.

Wang reported from Washington.

1:42 a.m.
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Supporters wait for Biden to speak

Supporters of Biden, who is projected to win the primary, wait for him to appear at his election night party on the campus of the University of South Carolina.

1:38 a.m.
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Sanders congratulates Biden, acknowledges S.C. defeat: ‘Nobody wins ’em all’

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Addressing supporters in Virginia, Sanders briefly congratulated Biden on his decisive win in South Carolina but largely focused his speech on veterans.

“For too long, we have taken veterans in this country for granted. We have sent them off to wars, and too often, those wars were wars that should never have been fought,” Sanders told the crowd. “Our administration will never forget the veterans, and our administration will never put the men and women in the armed forces in wars that should not be fought.”

He also promised to make Trump a one-term president.

“The American people, no matter what their political views may be, do not want a president in office who is a pathological liar, who is running a corrupt administration, who apparently has never read the Constitution of the United States and who, every day, through his attacks on the media, on the judiciary, on Congress, is undermining American democracy,” Sanders said of Trump.

Sanders then congratulated Biden on his victory.

“We won the popular vote in Iowa and the New Hampshire primary,” Sanders said. “We have won the Nevada caucus, but you cannot win ’em all. A lot of states out there, and tonight we did not win in South Carolina. … That will not be the only defeat. There are a lot of states in this country. Nobody wins ’em all.”

After some applause, Sanders continued.

“Now we enter Super Tuesday in Virginia,” he said to cheers.

Sanders, who had avoided any public mention of South Carolina for most of Saturday, campaigned in Boston earlier Saturday, before traveling to Springfield, Va., for an afternoon rally, part of a grueling schedule that left his voice hoarse at times during the day.

The senator from Vermont plans to spend Sunday campaigning in California, a delegate-rich Super Tuesday state where voting has already begun. Other candidates plan to be in Selma, Ala., to commemorate “Bloody Sunday.” ”We are more than a campaign,” said Sanders, who sough to lift his supporters’ spirits. “We are a movement.”

12:58 a.m.
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Biden won liberal voters in South Carolina, a group that favored Sanders in previous states, exit polls show

Biden won among South Carolina voters who called themselves liberal or even very liberal, a group that had strongly preferred Sanders in other states. Preliminary exit polls found about 4 in 10 very liberal voters supported Biden compared with roughly 3 in 10 for Sanders. Biden got the votes of only 4 percent of very liberal voters in both Iowa and New Hampshire and 12 percent in Nevada.

Biden’s support among black voters was a major factor in his better standing among strong liberals. A majority of South Carolina voters who identified as very liberal were black, and Biden won nearly 6 in 10 of that group. Among whites who identify as very liberal, over 4 in 10 backed Sanders compared with about 1 in 10 who backed Biden.

Preliminary exit polls also found:

First-time primary voters were split between Sanders and Biden. Biden and Sanders were just about tied among first-time South Carolina primary voters, each getting about 3 in 10 of that group in preliminary exit poll results. Sanders carried first-time primary voters in New Hampshire by 29 percent to 6 percent over Biden, and in Nevada by 38 percent to 14 percent. Buttigieg got a quarter of those votes in New Hampshire but only about 1 in 6 in South Carolina.

Biden led voters no matter the issue they were focused on. Health care was the most important issue among about 4 in 10 South Carolina voters, according to early exit poll results, and Biden beat Sanders by about 2-to-1 in that group. Sanders has won that group in other states. He beat Biden 39 percent to 20 percent a week earlier in Nevada and 30 percent to 9 percent in New Hampshire.

Biden won by an especially large margin among voters who said race relations was their most important issue, but he also won among voters who said climate change was their most important issue and among voters who said income inequality was their most important issue. Sanders won voters who prioritized income inequality 42 percent to 12 percent over Biden in Nevada and 35 percent to 5 percent in New Hampshire.

12:43 a.m.
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Biden supporters prepare for victory party

Biden supporters prepare for his election night party on the campus of the University of South Carolina shortly after it was projected that he had won the primary here.

12:27 a.m.
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Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe endorses Biden after S.C. win

Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe endorsed Biden on Saturday night, after the former vice president was projected to win the South Carolina primary.

“I’m going to go all in for Joe Biden,” McAuliffe announced on CNN minutes after polls in South Carolina closed. “I think he has the best shot of beating Donald Trump and, most importantly, not only winning the presidency but helping us in Senate and House races.”

McAuliffe added that he plans to appear with Biden in Norfolk at an event Sunday night. The former Democratic National Committee chairman had said earlier this week that he was considering endorsing Biden if he could pull off a strong finish in Saturday’s primary, The Washington Post reported.

On CNN, McAuliffe suggested Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Steyer should drop out of the race before Super Tuesday.

In a statement, McAuliffe said Biden was a candidate who could build a broad coalition, including African American voters.

“After South Carolina, it is clear Joe Biden is that leader,” he said. McAuliffe also cited Biden’s experience and character as what was needed to “repair the damage Trump’s incompetence has done to our world” when it came to global risks and hateful domestic rhetoric.

12:24 a.m.
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Black voters in S.C. favored Biden over Sanders by about 3 to 1, exit polls show

Black voters made up a majority of primary voters in South Carolina, and they favored Biden over Sanders by about 3 to 1, according to preliminary exit poll data. White voters split about evenly between Biden and Sanders. Buttigieg and Warren received more than 10 percent support each among white voters, but were in the low single digits among black voters.

Preliminary exit poll data also found that:

  • More than two-thirds of primary voters were ages 45 or older, the highest for any Democratic contest and a trend that hampered Sanders, who has performed strongest with younger Democrats. Sanders led narrowly with all voters under age 45, according to preliminary exit polls, but Biden led by more than 3 to 1 among voters ages 45 and up, garnering about half of their votes compared with less than 2 in 10 for Sanders.
  • Biden topped Sanders with black voters under age 45. South Carolina’s large African American population was expected to buoy Biden, but Sanders sought to challenge him among younger black voters. Preliminary exit poll results suggest Biden won that battle, with about 4 in 10 black voters under age 45 supporting the former vice president, while about 3 in 10 supported Sanders. Biden held a more lopsided advantage with black voters ages 45 and older, winning about two-thirds of their votes compared with just over 1 in 10 for Sanders.
  • Biden boosted by voters who want return to Obama’s policies. Biden’s connection to President Barack Obama appeared to be a strong factor in his victory. About half of voters said they want a return to the policies of the Obama administration, and Biden won that group by roughly 4 to 1 over Sanders. By contrast, about 3 in 10 voters wanted to break from Obama and move to more liberal policies, and they favored Sanders by more than 2 to 1.
  • Clyburn support important. Nearly half of primary voters said this week’s Biden endorsement by Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) was a factor in their decision, and Biden carried that group over Sanders by almost 4 to 1.
  • Biden led even among voters who want economic overhaul. Many of Biden’s voters seemed to support him despite other policies they support. For instance, more than half of voters said the economy needs a complete overhaul, a position that could match Sanders’s democratic socialist plans for reshaping the economy. But voters who wanted an overhaul voted almost 2 to 1 in favor of Biden.
12:00 a.m.
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Biden wins South Carolina primary, Edison Media Research projects

Biden has won Saturday’s South Carolina primary, Edison Media Research projects based on exit poll results, providing a boost for the former vice president, who lagged in the first three early-nominating states. Biden had been counting on his strong support among the Palmetto State’s black voters to jump-start his campaign again.

“I promise you this: If you send me out of South Carolina with a victory, there will be no stopping us,” Biden told South Carolina supporters Wednesday. “We will win the nomination. We will win the presidency. And, most importantly, we’ll eliminate the fear so many have in this country of a second term of Donald Trump.”

Biden was boosted by heavy support among black voters and those ages 45 and older, both groups that made up a larger share of voters than in earlier Democratic contests. Over half of the Democratic primary voters in South Carolina were African American, according to exit polls, far higher than in the other early nominating states this year.

Nearly half of South Carolina voters said the final-week endorsement by Rep. James E. Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) was an important factor in their vote, preliminary exit poll results found. Clyburn announced his support for Biden on Wednesday.

About three-quarters of South Carolina Democratic primary voters said they viewed Biden favorably, by far the highest share of any candidate. Billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who was not on the ballot in South Carolina, had by far the lowest favorability rating, with only about one-quarter of voters viewing him favorably.

11:56 p.m.
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Bloomberg buys 3 minutes of airtime to deliver coronavirus speech

Bloomberg plans to address the nation on Sunday night about coronavirus — in the form of a three-minute ad titled “Leadership in Crisis.”

The Bloomberg campaign did not respond to questions about how much it was spending to purchase the airtime. The commercial, which will air on CBS and NBC at around 8:30 p.m. Sunday, aims to draw a contrast between the former New York mayor and President Trump when it comes to their ability to handle a public health crisis.

The move comes as Bloomberg, a billionaire who has skipped the first four nominating states, including Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, is trying to gain legitimacy and momentum heading into Super Tuesday.

11:52 p.m.
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South Carolina’s political geography: 7th Congressional District

South Carolina awards 54 pledged delegates, with most coming from congressional districts. Candidates must hit 15 percent, statewide or in congressional districts, to get delegates. South Carolina is the first primary state where nonwhite voters will probably make up a majority, and its Democratic primary has perpetually flummoxed pollsters, who have undercounted black support in past contests. This originally appeared in The Trailer newsletter.

The 7th Congressional District runs from the Pee Dee region of the state, with plenty of rural black voters, to Myrtle Beach’s Horry County, with plenty more conservative transplants from colder states. (Traveling from west to east, Southern accents tend to get replaced by Staten Island accents.) Four years ago, Sanders won about one-third of the vote around Myrtle Beach, but he was decimated in the Pee Dee.

Biden looks intent on repeating Clinton’s strategy, as the only candidate with an office in the region, in Florence. Other Democrats have made very few trips here. Biden and Buttigieg are the only candidates still in the race who stopped by the Galivants Ferry stump last year, a major Pee Dee political gathering that most Democrats skipped. Steyer, Biden and Buttigieg have also stopped in Darlington County, and Biden and Steyer made competing stops this week in Georgetown. If Buttigieg’s emphasis on his military experience has traction, it would likely be here and in the retiree-heavy 1st.

2016 result: Clinton 76%, Sanders 24%