South Carolina: The make-or-break primary

At the CNN Democratic town hall in Charleston, South Carolina, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said that she is ready for a convention floor battle this summer if none of the Democratic candidates reach a delegate majority during the primaries.

Posted: Feb 27, 2020 5:51 PM
Updated: Feb 27, 2020 5:51 PM

Saturday will be a big day in South Carolina. With so many candidates in the Democratic competition, most of whom have sizable blocks of support, each state contest so far has turned into a hugely consequential day of voting. And the South Carolina primary will be no different.

For former Vice President Joe Biden, South Carolina means everything. The candidate whom many have called the "most electable" in the bunch struggled in Iowa, New Hampshire, and -- to a lesser extent -- in Nevada. Not only did he lose, but he lost badly in Iowa and New Hampshire, and placed a distant second in Nevada.

Meanwhile, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has propelled himself to the top of the heap, and with the rest of the candidates dividing up the vote, the Democratic Socialist from Vermont now finds himself in a position to win the nomination.

If Biden does not win in South Carolina, the state his campaign thinks will help him rebound, it could easily be the end of the race for him. South Carolina has been his so-called "firewall," and now that firewall has to hold. If the day ends with Sanders on top, or even a very close second, there will be considerable pressure on Biden to step down. The stakes are particularly high since the former vice president has not spent nearly as much time in other Super Tuesday states

A poor showing in South Carolina would dampen Biden's organizational enthusiasm and fundraising. With former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ramping up his television ad buys, and with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg showing no signs of packing up, the next few weeks could be rough if South Carolina doesn't live up to expectations for the Biden.

Fortunately for Biden, the last few days have been promising. He stood his ground on the fractious debate stage, displaying the kind of energy and righteous anger that have been lacking from many of his campaign performances. He had an extraordinarily moving moment during CNN's town hall, tearing up as he responded to a question from a pastor whose wife was killed in the 2015 Charleston church shooting. And South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, an influential voice in the state, offered Biden his formal endorsement.

If Biden can turn all of these good moments, as well as months of organizational efforts, into a decisive victory in South Carolina, he will put himself in much stronger standing for the next few rounds of voting.

n other words, his candidacy will seem plausible again. With many Democrats still fretting over the electability of Sanders and seeking a safer bet -- desperate to avoid a second term of President Donald Trump at all costs -- Biden still brings the gravitas and experience that voters may feel would make him better at governing than Trump. He is the most-known quantity in this campaign, and if he can survive the nomination process, he could pose a tough challenge to the President in swing states and suburban constituencies that are on the fence.

The other candidates also face high stakes moment in South Carolina, though the contests on Super Tuesday will be more important for them.

If Sanders can pull out a victory or come in a close second on Saturday, he will be in an excellent position to lock in the frontrunner position by the end of Super Tuesday. Such an outcome would give him the momentum to secure a huge number of delegates in California and Texas, making the others feel very far away from winning the nomination.

For Sanders, coming in a strong second would be almost as good as winning. It would show once again how formidable his campaign is, while encouraging Biden to stay in the race and thus continuing to split the non-Sanders delegate count.

A strong performance by Warren, who has promised to stay in this race until the convention, provided no candidate has received a delegate majority, could bolster her standing as a real progressive alternative to Sanders. She could be the champion of progressive causes in a way that generates less anxiety among Democratic leaders.

Obviously, a solid turnout for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who continues to impress on the debate stage but still isn't pulling in large number of delegates, would keep her alive for Super Tuesday. She represents the most interesting, moderate alternative to Bloomberg and doesn't carry as much baggage of the former mayor.

Tom Steyer, who doesn't really have much of a chance of amassing many delegates, could show his chops if he wins enough votes from younger African American voters to undercut Biden's total. That could make him a key player in the weeks ahead.

Buttigieg also has a great deal to prove. His goal should be to do better than expected in South Carolina among African American voters, demonstrating that he does have the capacity to secure the support of core Democratic constituencies, despite what the early polls have shown. This would expand the number of political leaders and voters who see him as a candidate with the potential to unite and mobilize the Democratic coalition.

But, without a doubt, the most important story on Saturday will be Biden. This primary is truly a make-or-break moment for him. If he wins big, Biden brings his campaign back to life and improves his odds to make it until the convention. If he doesn't, it could be the first step in narrowing the number of Democrats who are vying to win this nomination.

West Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
67° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 67°
Kokomo
Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 60°
Rensselaer
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 63°
Fowler
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 67°
Williamsport
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 69°
Crawfordsville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 64°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 64°
Delphi
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 65°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 65°
Logansport
Mostly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 59°
Improving weather with a warm-up ahead....
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events