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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6:57 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Around half of voters say the next president should return to Obama’s policies

From CNN's Grace Sparks

Around half of South Carolina Democratic voters say the next president should return to Obama-era policies, while around 3 in 10 would prefer they be more liberal, according to early exit poll results.

Only about 1 in 8 want the next president’s policies to be more conservative than former President Barack Obama’s.

More than half of voters in South Carolina Saturday said they attend religious services once a week or more, while another 2 in 5 attend occasionally. Almost 1 in 5 never attend religious services. 

Showing the differences in South Carolina compared to the race's first three states, 51% in New Hampshire said they never attend religious services.

6:41 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Polls close soon in South Carolina

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Polls are closing soon in South Carolina, the last primary before Super Tuesday.

What we know so far: Early exit polls show a little over half of Democratic voters in South Carolina say they prefer a candidate who can beat President Trump versus someone who agrees with them on the issues.

Around 2 in 5 voters named health care as the most important issue to their vote, according to exit poll results. 

A majority of voters in the state's Democratic primary decided who to support this month, with a third who made up their minds in the last few days. More than half of the voters in the South Carolina Democratic primary are black, according to early CNN exit polling. Another 2 in 5 are white.

6:15 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Health care remains the most important issue for Democratic primary voters

From CNN's Grace Sparks

Around 2 in 5 South Carolina voters in the Democratic primary named health care as the most important issue to their vote, according to preliminary exit poll results. 

A distant 1 in 5 cited income inequality, and almost 1 in 5 said race relations. Fewer, around 1 in 7, said climate change was their most important issue. 

White voters are more likely to cite climate change as their second issue after health care, while black voters are voting based on race relations and income inequality (after health care), according to the early polls. 

Around half of Democratic primary voters in South Carolina support replacing private insurance with a public health care plan — less than we’ve seen in the race’s first three states, where support was around 60%.

Only 1 in 10 of South Carolina’s voters say the economic system in the US works well, while around half say it needs a complete overhaul and over a third think it needs minor changes.

David Chalian has more:

6:12 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

More than half of Democratic voters want a candidate who can beat Trump

From CNN's Grace Sparks

A little over half of Democratic voters in South Carolina say they prefer a candidate who can beat President Trump versus someone who agrees with them on the issues, according to early exit polls. That is slightly lower than in the race’s early states, where more than 60% said they prefer such a candidate.

Four in 5 voters will vote for the Democratic nominee in November no matter who they are, according to Tuesday’s early polls, while the remainder say they won't. 

Only about half are angry with the Trump administration — in New Hampshire that was 79%. Another 2 in 5 are dissatisfied, while significantly fewer are enthusiastic or satisfied. 

The most important quality in deciding who to vote for was which candidate can bring about needed change, with almost 2 in 5. Around a quarter said they want someone to unite the country, another quarter want someone who cares about people like them, and fewer than 1 in 10 think they should elect someone who is a fighter.

David Chalian has more:

5:59 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Most South Carolina voters decided who to support this month

From CNN's Grace Sparks

A majority of voters in the South Carolina Democratic primary decided who to support this month, with a third who made up their minds in the last few days.

A little over 2 in 5 made up their minds earlier than that, including almost 2 in 5 who decided who to vote for before January.

Almost 1 in 5 South Carolina Democratic voters are first time voters, from 13% in 2016, while around 4 in 5 have voted before. 

After South Carolina Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, almost half of voters say it was the most important or one of several important factors in their vote today. A little over 1 in 10 say it was a minor factor and around a quarter report it wasn’t a factor at all.

David Chalian has more:

5:39 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Over half of South Carolina Democratic primary voters are black, exit polls show

From CNN's Grace Sparks

Voters check-in with poll workers at Mary Ford Elementary School in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Saturday, February 29.
Voters check-in with poll workers at Mary Ford Elementary School in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Saturday, February 29. Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images

Over half of the voters in the South Carolina Democratic primary are black, according to early CNN exit polling. Another 2 in 5 are white.

In 2016, 61% of voters were black, and 55% were in 2008. 

The majority of the voters, around 7 in 10 are over the age of 45, while around a quarter are under. One in 10 are under the age of 30.

One in 5 voters in South Carolina consider themselves very liberal, while 3 in 10 are somewhat liberal, 4 in 10 are moderates, and another 1 in 10 are conservative.

4:53 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

South Carolina is using new voting equipment

From CNN's Pamela Kirkland

A voter fills out a ballot at a polling station located at the Charleston County Housing and Redevelopment Authority during the primary election in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 29, 2020.
A voter fills out a ballot at a polling station located at the Charleston County Housing and Redevelopment Authority during the primary election in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 29, 2020. Joshua Lott / AFP via Getty Images

As voters head to the polls in South Carolina, they'll be the first in the nation this cycle to use all new voting equipment.

These are the types of machines that are being implemented in more than a dozen states. Election Systems & Software (ES&S) won a $51 million bid for new voting machines — 13,500.

South Carolina is one of the few states to completely change their voting system.

4:26 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Absentee voting in South Carolina is up from 2016

From CNN's Adam Levy, Ethan Cohen and Liz Stark

South Carolinians have already exceeded one 2016 voting indicator: absentee voting.

The South Carolina Election Commission reports that 20,000 more Democratic absentee ballots have already been returned as of this morning than the 2016 primary total.

Absentee ballots are also broken down by race.

Currently, the number of absentee ballots from white voters has more than doubled those from 2016. Four years ago, they made up about 23% of the absentee vote. As of Saturday morning, they are about 36% of absentee ballots returned.

Absentees from black voters, which represented about 76% of absentees four years ago, have risen by more than 6,000 votes but currently represent about 63% of absentee ballots returned. 

Turnout in the 2016 Democratic primary was 373,063.

Absentee ballots are due to county election officials by poll close today. Military/overseas ballots must be postmarked by today. 

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.”