The 2020 South Carolina primary

By Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 11:48 PM ET, Sat February 29, 2020
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6:14 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Joe Biden confidently proclaims "full comeback" starts today in South Carolina

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

Former Vice President Joe Biden was loud and energetic at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, feeding off of the energy’s crowd as he confidently proclaimed that “the full comeback starts in South Carolina.” 

Biden was a different candidate at this rally than seen in Iowa or even Nevada. Introduced by North Carolina Reps. G.K. Butterfield and David Price, both of whom have announced their support for the former vice president, Biden took the stage to his new walk-up song, Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up” at Saint Augustine's University.

This is his second rally during the campaign in the Tar Heel state. The first and only other time Biden visited North Carolina was Oct. 27, 2019 in Durham. 

“Today is a great day because I’ll tell you what the full comeback starts in South Carolina and then goes here on Tuesday,” he said. “I mean it. We’re going to win South Carolina, and the next step is North Carolina. We do enough, we’re going to win here as well and then it’s a straight path to the nomination for President of the United States of America.”

He continued: “But I promise you this, if North Carolina stands with us on Tuesday, there will be no stopping us from there to the nomination. And we will win the presidency. And we will defeat Donald Trump.”

 

4:10 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Here's how much 2020 candidates have spent on ads

From CNN's David Wright

Here's a final update on South Carolina TV and radio ad spending by 2020 candidates since Jan.1. 2019, via Kantar Media/CMAG data:

  • Tom Steyer: $22,480,869
  • Pete Buttigieg: $2,750,261
  • Joe Biden: $889,659
  • Bernie Sanders: $880,450
  • Elizabeth Warren: $648,175
  • Tulsi Gabbard: $624,562
  • Amy Klobuchar: $583,987
  • Donald Trump: $549,062
6:14 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Klobuchar: "I don't pretend to think I'm going to be number one in South Carolina"

From CNN’s Jasmine Wright

 Alex Wong/Getty Images
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar would not say where she needs to place today in the South Carolina primary when asked by CNN, instead saying her momentum from New Hampshire will propel her.

“I don't pretend to think I'm going to be number one in South Carolina, I think we've seen that in the polls,” she said, while speaking to reporters after an event in Richmond, Virginia.

Klobuchar continued: "My point is that we are still number three in total votes, and we are going to be going into the Super Tuesday states, of a state like Colorado or a state like Virginia, strong, and a lot of what I have been talking about which is, bringing people with us is what has allowed people to win in these states like Mark Warner in Virginia or like Michael Bennet in Colorado." 

Klobuchar attempted to preempt her numbers out of South Carolina, explaining to reporters that she just didn’t have enough money to be competitive, when asked how she can be competitive down the line without a diverse coalition. 

“I will say, you know, South Carolina for me the issue was, we got a lot of our funding in after New Hampshire. And while we had operations and staff in South Carolina and for that matter in Nevada, we didn't have as big of a staff there as some of the other campaigns. Why, because we didn't have the funding and we've been basically going state by state. Now, at least on Super Tuesday, we’re able to buy ads, at a rate, equivalent to many of the campaigns, we're able to have staff and all of the state. Probably no different than a lot of the other campaigns in terms of a number, and it just puts me on a more equal playing field,” she said.

12:03 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Why this primary is a make-or-break moment for a lot of Democrats

Analysis from CNN's Harry Enten

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to guests during a campaign rally at Finlay Park on February 28, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to guests during a campaign rally at Finlay Park on February 28, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. Scott Olson/Getty Images

It's easy to miss the importance of this year's South Carolina primary. Vermont's Sen. Bernie Sanders has already built a wave of momentum. Many more delegates will be allocated in the Super Tuesday contests just three days after the Palmetto State votes.

But make no mistake: South Carolina is the last chance for the non-Sanders candidates to turn the tide of this primary campaign.

The math here is simple, folks. Sanders holds a 10+ point advantage in the national polls at this point. The only other candidates who recently have been polling at 15% or above are former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

If that holds true through Super Tuesday, Sanders would be well on his way to a delegate plurality (if not majority). The Super Tuesday states are largely representative of the nation as a whole. With a 15% threshold to win delegates across states and congressional districts, Sanders would likely accumulate north of 40% of the delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday.

Read more here.

11:59 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

What you need to know about the South Carolina primary

A voter arrives at a polling station located at Mary Ford Elementary School during the primary election in North Charleston, South Carolina, on February 29, 2020.
A voter arrives at a polling station located at Mary Ford Elementary School during the primary election in North Charleston, South Carolina, on February 29, 2020. Joshua Lott / AFP via Getty Images

South Carolina's Democratic primary is happening today. Polls close at 7 p.m. ET.

Any registered voter may participate in the Democratic primary. Fifty-four Democratic delegates are at stake today.

About the primary: In today's primary, the most important constituency is African-American voters, who make up more than half the electorate and who former Vice President Joe Biden has called his "firewall" of support. Biden needs a win the primary in order to keep his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination alive.

What about the Republican primary? The state's Republican Party canceled its primary, and all delegates are expected to be allocated to Donald Trump.

South Carolina is a Republican stronghold. Once part of the old Democratic "Solid South," the Palmetto State has voted Republican in 13 of the last 14 presidential elections.

Here's what happened in South Carolina in 2016: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the South Carolina Democratic primary in 2016. Trump won the Republican South Carolina primary. In the general election that year, Trump won the state with 54.9% of the vote, compared with Clinton's 40.7%.