The 2020 South Carolina primary

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11:04 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Here's what happened in the South Carolina primary

The South Carolina primary is over and former Vice President Joe Biden has been named the winner.

A lot happened tonight. Catch up on the key takeaways below:

  • Biden wins big: Biden surged to a strong victory with his first-ever nominating contest win. Biden won around 3 in 5 black voters, dominating over Sanders, his closest competitor who got almost 1 in 5 of the group. Steyer came close to Sanders, with around 1 in 7 black voters.
  • Sanders came in a distant second: Exit polls suggest that the South Carolina electorate was far more moderate and African American than the states in which Sanders has prospered. At a rally tonight, Sanders congratulated Biden, saying, "We did not win in South Carolina. That will not be the only defeat. There are a lot of states in this country and nobody can win them all."
  • Biden closed the delegate gap on Sanders: Biden's delegate count increased again tonight from 34 to 41. Biden is now is only 12 delegates behind Bernie Sanders, who is leading with 53. Candidates need 1,991 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.
  • Tom Steyer dropped out: The billionaire businessman said he decided to get out of the 2020 presidential race after he couldn't see a "path where I can win." Steyer spent big on ads in the state leading up to Saturday's vote.
11:02 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

These candidates are studying their path forward going into Super Tuesday

Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg are all studying their path forward tonight, advisers to the respective campaigns tell CNN.

Klobuchar and Warren are committed to Super Tuesday, when voters in their home states cast ballots.

But one of the biggest questions remains: What are Buttigieg and Bloomberg thinking about their next move?

All four of the candidates are scheduled to be in Selma, Alabama, for the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the annual reenactment of the bridge crossing.

Joe Biden will also be in Selma on Sunday, allowing an opportunity for conversations – or more – among all of the Democratic rivals.

The most pressing question may be for Buttigieg. He is scheduled to go to Texas, Oklahoma and California – before ending Super Tuesday in Michigan.

For now, that schedule holds. But a top Democrat close to the Buttigieg campaign acknowledged tonight that the former mayor is studying whether he has a path forward. He hasn’t reached a conclusion tonight — or if so, he hasn’t talked about it openly, even among his small circle of advisers. Buttigieg's team knows that how he leaves the race — if it comes to that — is important to his future.

Watch:

10:48 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Biden is leading the popular vote to date

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill Biden, speaks at a primary night election rally in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Feb. 29.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill Biden, speaks at a primary night election rally in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Feb. 29. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the popular vote so far with 281,164 votes (27.8%) after four Democratic contests.

That's 30,216 more votes than Bernie Sanders, who comes in a distant second with 250,948 votes (24.8%).

Here's where the rest of the candidates stand:

  • Buttigieg: 169,291 (16.7%)
  • Warren: 104,793 (10.3%)
  • Klobuchar: 101,344 (10.0%)

Watch:

10:21 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Biden is only 12 delegates behind Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a primary night election rally in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, February 29.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a primary night election rally in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, February 29. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Joe Biden's delegate count increased again tonight from 34 to 41.

Biden now is only 12 delegates behind Bernie Sanders, who is leading with 53.

Pete Buttigieg has 26 delegates, Elizabeth Warren has eight and Amy Klobuchar has seven.

Remember: The candidates need 1,991 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.

Watch:

9:59 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Warren and Klobuchar congratulate Biden for his South Carolina victory

AP Photo/Michael Wyke
AP Photo/Michael Wyke

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar congratulated former Vice President Joe Biden for his victory in South Carolina at events tonight.

"Results from South Carolina are coming in and I want to say congratulations to Vice President Biden. I’ll be the first to say that the first four contests haven’t gone exactly as I’d hoped," Warren said at the rally in Houston, Texas.

Klobuchar, who received less than favorable returns from the South Carolina contest, said, "And I want to start out by congratulating the Vice President on South Carolina."

Speaking at the Blue NC Celebration in Charlotte, Klobuchar then quickly pivoted to Super Tuesday, saying, “And now we know that all eyes are on North Carolina." 

9:47 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Tom Steyer: "I can't see a path where I can win the presidency"

Pool
Pool

Tom Steyer said he decided to get out of the 2020 presidential race after he couldn't see a "path where I can win."

"I said if I didn't see a path to winning that I'd suspend my campaign," he said. "And honestly, I can't see a path where I can win the presidency."

He thanked his supporters and pledged that he would support the Democratic presidential nominee, though he didn't say he would endorse a specific candidate.

"Every Democrat is a million times better than Trump. Trump is a disaster," Steyer said, noting that South Carolina's Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham was also a "disaster."

Steyer turned pensive about his just-shuttered presidential bid.

"When the Lord closes a door, he opens a window. I will find that window and I will crawl through it with you," Steyer said. "I promise you that. I love you very much. This has been a great experience. I have zero regrets. Meeting you and the rest of the American people was the highlight of my life."

Watch:

9:44 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Jill Biden: Tonight's win is "just the beginning" 

Dr. Jill Biden spoke to CNN tonight about President Trump's comments about her husband and son, Hunter, saying, "As a mother, it's very hard for me to see my son attacked, and to see my husband attacked."

Throughout his impeachment, Trump repeatedly brought up the Bidens and, in particular, Hunter Biden's connection to Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

"These are all distractions for Donald Trump," she said.

"It just shows you that Donald Trump doesn't want to run against Joe Biden because Joe Biden is going to beat him," she added.

Asked if tonight's win in South Carolina will give her husband's candidacy momentum into Super Tuesday, Jill said, "This is just the beginning." 

"I'm a marathon runner. This is just the beginning of or marathon...I think we're going to take it the whole way."

Watch:

9:31 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Sanders still leads the delegate count

Despite tonight's win for Joe Biden in South Carolina, Bernie Sanders is leading the delegate count.

Why this matters: The candidates must reach 1,991 delegates to become the party's nominee.

Here's where things stand now:

  • Bernie Sanders: 48
  • Joe Biden: 34
  • Pete Buttigieg: 26
  • Elizabeth Warren: 8
  • Amy Klobuchar: 7
9:44 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Buttigieg: "I am proud of the votes we earned"

Win McNamee
Win McNamee

Pete Buttigieg said he is proud of the votes his campaign has earned, and that he is determined to “earn every vote on the road ahead.”

As votes continue to be counted in South Carolina on Saturday, Buttigieg took the stage in Raleigh, North Carolina, and congratulated Joe Biden on his victory in the state’s primary. 

“I want to thank the voters of South Carolina,” Buttigieg told supporters. “Especially the black voters of South Carolina who showed that famous Southern hospitality over the last year, welcoming us into their homes and churches and neighborhoods and businesses.”