While Biden is the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination, a few other long-shot candidates are mounting challenges to the president.
The first is self-help author Marianne Williamson, who unsuccessfully ran for the presidential nomination in 2020. A former spiritual leader in Today’s Church, Williamson supports abortion rights, reparations for descendants of formerly enslaved Americans and a single-payer health care system. system.
She also lamented the Democratic Party’s refusal to allow anyone to debate Biden, calling it “voter suppression.”
The other challenger is Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips, a former businessman elected to Congress in 2018. Phillips is a moderate with a reputation for being able to work with Republicans if it means getting things done.
The 55-year-old says that while Biden “is a good man,” he is too old, too much of a career Washington politician, and can’t beat Trump.
“If it comes down to Biden versus Trump, of course I would vote for Joe Biden, but he’s not going to win — and that’s why I’m in this race,” he said at a forum on social media last week.
All eyes are on the Deep South
Iowa was the first state to enter the presidential nomination race for both Democrats and Republicans, followed by New Hampshire. But after a chaotic 2020 caucus filled with irregularities and delayed results, the Democratic National Committee rearranged the 2024 primary schedule and listed South Carolina as the first contest of the election season.
In doing so, he noted that the southern state, which has a high population of black residents, was much more racially diverse than Iowa, which is majority white, rural and evangelical Christian.
“The Democratic Party looks like America,” party Chairman Jaime Harrison said when announcing the calendar overhaul, “and so does this proposal.”
That said, Democrats did participate in the New Hampshire primary alongside Republicans last week, but Biden was not on the ballot, making him the first incumbent president in more than half a century not to not register for the state’s early voting.
He still ended up winning, thanks to supporters who mounted a campaign to “write in” his name (which is allowed under New Hampshire election laws) so that he wouldn’t be overshadowed by Phillips and Williamson.
Biden finished with nearly 64 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, while Phillips had 20 percent and Williamson 4 percent.
Black voters are the key
Although all but assured of the nomination, this weekend’s primary race represents an early test of Biden’s continued support among Black voters, who helped propel him to the presidency in 2020.
Four years ago, Biden’s campaign for the nomination was on life support after a poor showing against progressive stalwart Bernie Sanders and rising Democratic star Pete Buttigieg in the first two contests.
But after finishing fourth in Iowa, then fifth in New Hampshire, Biden gained the support of South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, a highly influential figure in South Carolina’s black community. His fortunes changed immediately.
“I owe it to you,” Biden told community leaders during a campaign event in the state capital of Charleston last month.
The big question is whether they will show up for him again in November. Across the United States, Black voters have expressed disappointment with Biden’s failure to deliver on campaign promises such as voting rights reform and student loan forgiveness, with many pointing to the rising cost of life as a key problem.
A New York Times A poll also recently found that 22% of black voters in the six most crucial battleground states now support Trump. To put that in context, Trump won only 8% of black voters nationally in 2020 and 6% in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.
What happens on primary day?
South Carolina has an open primary system, meaning any registered voter can participate in any party’s primary. However, voters must choose between this weekend’s Democratic race or the Republican race between Donald Trump and Nikki Haley on February 24 – they cannot participate in both.
This led some voters to consider skipping the Democratic vote and voting in the Republican primary for Nikki Haley in an attempt to weaken Trump’s performance.
Nonetheless, the contest will set the stage for what is shaping up to be an electoral rematch between Biden and his Republican predecessor. Polls open at 7 a.m. local time in all 46 South Carolina counties on Saturday and close at 7 p.m., with results expected shortly thereafter.
And while Biden is expected to dominate, Democrats know it won’t necessarily be smooth sailing for the president as he heads into the November general election.
“I believe with all my heart that Joe Biden will walk away victorious tomorrow night; however, two things happen in elections,” says South Carolina-based Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawrite.
“You either win or you learn – and sometimes when you win, you don’t learn. So I hope this will be a learning opportunity, even if it may mean increasing difficulties for our party and for the re-election campaign.”
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