With 94% of counties reporting as of Sunday morning, Biden won the support of 48% of voters, ahead of Bernie Sanders at 19% and Tom Steyer at 11%. Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard are not on pace to win any delegates, according to CBS News projections.
After Biden's big lead became clear on Saturday, Steyer announced he wasof the 2020 presidential race. Steyer had invested heavily in South Carolina.
As of Sunday morning, CBS News' delegate estimate shows Biden winning 39 delegates in South Carolina, and Sanders winning 11. Sanders still leads the overall race with 56 national delegates, but Biden has leaped into second place with 54.
Biden's win comes after lackluster finishes in the first three early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, where Sanders came out on top and established his status as the frontrunner in the race.
"We've just won and we've won big because of you," Biden said to his supporters in Columbia, South Carolina. "And we are very much alive."
Biden had won the key endorsement of South Carolina Congressman, the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House and one of the most powerful forces in South Carolina politics. His nod did not go unnoticed by voters: 47% of voters said the endorsement was important to them, compared to 38% who said it was not.
Biden had long considered South Carolina his "firewall," but some polls had shown that lead shrinking after the early state losses.
"We are going to reach the mountaintop": Tom Steyer supporters, staff weigh options after he ends his campaign
After Steyer took the stage to announce the end of his presidential bid, some staffers appeared stunned, others frustrated. Organizer Nicola Hemphill wiped streams of tears from her face as she clung to friends. "South Carolina was a slave state," Hemphill told CBS News. "This is the first candidate I have ever seen put black people first. And he did it on the national platform."
Hemphill described what she believes will become Steyer's legacy: "Tenacity. Entrepreneurship. He cares about our lives."
Nearly all staff members took the stage for a final rallying cry before dispersing into the crowd of remaining supporters. "We love each other no matter what. We have a long fight ahead of us," one staff member announced. "But we are going to reach the mountaintop, no matter hell or high water."
Seated in the first row, supporter Courtney Young from Columbia, said she will "absolutely" consider Steyer's endorsement moving forward, if he chooses to back another presidential contender.
"I voted for him since his first commercial because he was not typical. He was not typical," said Columbia resident Maria Romero who told CBS News she "definitely" voted for Steyer in the primary.
"He was sincere ... He was the type of President, I would have seen, because I know from the depths of his heart he would have been — next to President Obama — the second best president in the whole wide world."
— LaCrai Mitchell and Nicole Sganga
Updated delegate count for South Carolina
Joe Biden has earned 32 national delegates from South Carolina and Bernie Sanders has earned 10 as of 11 p.m.
Sanders still leads the overall race with 55 national delegates, but Biden has leaped into second place with 47.
The current national CBS News delegate estimate is below, subject to change as more of the South Carolina vote comes in.
- Bernie Sanders: 55
- Joe Biden: 47
- Pete Buttigieg: 26
- Elizabeth Warren: 8
- Amy Klobuchar: 7
Where the South Carolina vote stands
Current delegate count for South Carolina
As of 10:15 p.m., CBS News' delegate estimate out of South Carolina shows Biden with 26 delegates and Sanders with 3. This will be updated further when more of the vote comes in. There are 54 pledged delegates available in the South Carolina primary.
Biden is leading in all of the 46 counties in South Carolina as of 10:15 p.m.
In the 25 counties that have 100% of the expected vote in, Biden leads, with either Sanders or Steyer in second except in Lancaster, where Buttigieg finished in the top three, rather than Steyer.
The current national CBS News delegate estimate is below, subject to change as more of the South Carolina vote comes in.
- Sanders: 48
- Biden: 41
- Buttigieg: 26
- Warren: 8
- Klobuchar: 7
Jill Biden says "the people of South Carolina gave us wings"
Jill Biden said they felt "so overwhelmed" when Biden's victory in South Carolina was official. "We were just really joyous that this is the way it turned out," she said in an interview with CBS News' Caitlin Huey-Burns
"This is just the beginning," she continued. "This is I feel like, you know, we're on our way and and the people of South Carolina gave us wings. And, you know, we will first ever be grateful to them for coming out for Joe and supporting him and just, you know, the kindness that they've shown in the love."
Buttigieg looks ahead to next primaries
At a town hall in Raleigh, North Carolina, Buttigieg congratulated Biden on his victory and thanked South Carolina voters. CBS News projections indicate he is not on pace to win any delegates.
He said that his campaign has raised $13 million "that will power us through" the next races.
— Jack Turman and Sarah Ewall-Wice
Biden won more religious voters
The more religious a voter was in the South Carolina Democratic primary, the more likely that voter was to cast a ballot for Joe Biden. Among the 46% who reported they attend religious services weekly, Biden won 59% of their votes. Those who attend services occasionally cast 49% of their votes for Biden (a plurality). Only those who never attend services favored Sanders (38%) over Biden (25%).
This pattern was even stronger among black voters, with 65% of the most religious casting a ballot for Biden. But Biden also won among the most religious white voters, garnering 43% compared to only 16% for Buttigieg and 14% for Sanders.
— David Jones
Bloomberg campaign manager says he isn't going anywhere
Following Biden's decisive win in South Carolina, Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg's campaign manager, reiterated that the former New York City mayor has not to appeared on the ballot and is instead focused on "organizing Democrats and building infrastructure in states all around the country."
"Mike is the only candidate to campaign in all 14 Super Tuesday states over the last two months and we look forward to Tuesday," Sheekey said. "Mike's record of successfully leading and managing through crises and challenges is exactly what Americans are looking for in a new president."
Bloomberg was not on the ballot in any of the four early-voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Earlier Saturday, he appeared before supporters in North Carolina, where voters will head to the polls Tuesday.
Steyer voters in South Carolina have stronger affinity for Biden than Sanders
Steyer voters in South Carolina have a significantly stronger affinity for Biden than for Sanders, according to CBS News exit polls. Among Steyer voters, 71% have a favorable opinion of Joe Biden, but only 43% have a favorable impression of Bernie Sanders.
— David Jones
Steyer drops out of presidential race
Steyer announced he is dropping out of the presidential race, following his projected third place finish in South Carolina.
Steyer disclosed his decision in remarks to supporters, during which he reiterated his reasons for jumping into the presidential race and heralded his team in the state.
"I said if I didn't see a path to winning that I'd suspend my campaign and honestly, I can't see a path where I can win the presidency," Steyer said.
Steyer vowed to support the Democratic presidential, nominee, saying any Democrat is "a million times better than" Mr. Trump. He also criticized South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, calling him a "disaster for the people here."
"When the Lord closes a door he opens a window," Steyer said. "I will find that window and crawl through it with you, I promise you that."
Steyer invested heavily in the Palmetto State, building a campaign infrastructure and spending more than $17 million on ads there. He had the most staff in South Carolina, with 102 staffers, and spent 23 days campaigning in the state.
Before the primary, Steyer's efforts appeared to pay off, as polling in the run-up to the primary put him in third behind Biden and Sanders. But he failed to earn any delegates in the other three early-voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
The billionaire philanthropist was among the first to call for President Trump's impeachment and has been one of the most vocal to sound the alarm about climate change.
— Ed O'Keefe, Zak Hudak, Adam Brewster and Melissa Quinn
Biden says his campaign is "very much alive" after victory in South Carolina
A smiling Biden addressed a cheering crowd shortly before 9 p.m., thanking voters for supporting his campaign when the media and political experts had declared his effort "dead."
"We've just won and we've won big because of you," Biden said, grinning. "And we are very much alive."
Biden emphasized his ability to defeat Mr. Trump and said that he represented a return to consistency.
"This is the moment to choose the path forward for our democracy," Biden said. "If the Democrats nominate me, I believe I can beat Donald Trump, keep Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives as speaker, and take back the United States Senate."
Biden also took a shot at Bloomberg, who was previously a Republican, and Sanders, an independent, saying that he is a "candidate who's a Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, a proud Democrat, an Obama-Biden Democrat."
"Talk about the revolution isn't changing anyone's life. We need real changes right now," Biden said.
The former vice president acknowledged the role that South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn's endorsement had on this primary, declaring Clyburn "brought me back!"
He also spoke of the deep emotional ties he has with the state. Biden's experience here soon after the 2015 mass shooting in Charleston, which took place around the time of his son Beau's death from brain cancer, both helped him heal, he said, and inspired him to run for the presidency. He recalled that he and his wife, Jill Biden, came for Sunday services at Mother Emanuel AME after the funeral for the victims. Six weeks earlier, he said, "we had lost our son, Beau. And we needed to be healed, too."
"We needed whatever they were exuding. And with every season that's passed, they've gotten up and found purpose to live life worthy of the ones they lost. Worthy of the blessings to live in this remarkable country," Biden said. "We left here, having arrived in overwhelming pain, thinking, 'We can do this. We can get through this.' So, I wanted to tell you, it's no small reason why I'm in this race. People like all of you here tonight, all around the country. The days of Donald Trump's divisiveness will soon be over."
America, he said, "can't survive unless we focus on our goodness."
This is the first primary Biden has ever won, after running for president in 1988, 2008 and now in 2020.
"We can say without fear of contradiction: the Bidens love you, man," Biden said at the end of his speech.
Sanders says "you cannot win 'em all"
Sanders, who was on track to come in second place behind Biden in South Carolina, addressed an enthusiastic crowd in Virginia Beach, Virginia, at 8:30 p.m.
"We are here tonight because we are determined that Donald Trump will be a one-term president," Sanders said.
Sanders noted that he had won in Nevada and New Hampshire before addressing his loss in South Carolina.
"You cannot win 'em all," Sanders acknowledged. "A lot of states out there — and tonight we did not win in South Carolina. And that will not be the only defeat."
He did, however, express confidence that he would win in Virginia, which votes in three days, on Super Tuesday. "And we're gonna beat Trump in Virginia here, as well."
Warren says early state contests "haven't gone exactly as I'd hoped"
Warren addressed a crowd of supporters in Houston, Texas, after Biden was declared the winner in South Carolina.
"I want to say congratulations to Vice President Biden," Warren said. "I will be the first to say that the first four contests haven't gone exactly as I'd hoped."
Warren noted that Super Tuesday is in three days and urged her supporters to donate to her her campaign to ensure she remains competitive.
"We want to gain as many delegates to the convention as we can, from California to right here in Texas," she said. "It may take days or even longer to know the full results from Super Tuesday, but they will be critical in sorting out who our nominee will be this year. My campaign is built for the long haul, and we are looking forward to these big contests."
Warren revealed that in the coming days, she will be releasing a plan to address the public health and economic effects of the coronavirus.
"These are steps that Congress and the president should take immediately to keep our people and our economy healthy," she said.
Biden improves showing among black voters compared to Nevada
Biden significantly improved his showing among black voters in South Carolina compared to his results in last week's Nevada caucuses. In Nevada, Biden won the black vote by only a 10-point margin, 38% to 28%. In South Carolina, the CBS News Exit Poll suggests that Biden is poised to win the black vote by 43 points, 60% to 17%.
The endorsement of Biden by South Carolina congressman James Clyburn may have played a significant role in this shift. Sixty percent of black voters who went to the polls said Clyburn's endorsement was an important factor in deciding their vote. An overwhelming majority (64%) of those voters cast their ballots for Biden.
— David Jones
Qualities of candidates that mattered for South Carolina primary voters
Biden won among voters who valued a candidate who cares about people like them, who can deliver change and who can unite the country. The 25% of voters who prioritized uniting the country gave Biden his biggest margin, with 55% of the vote, compared to Buttigieg's 16% and Sanders's 11%, the Vermont senator's worst showing across all the issues.
— David Jones
Sanders is in second place, CBS News projects
Bernie Sanders is in second place, according to CBS News projections. Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Warren and Gabbard are not on pace to win any delegates, according to CBS News projections.
Jaime Harrison on running for the Senate in South Carolina against Lindsey Graham
Trump tweets about Biden's victory, urges Bloomberg to drop out
Mr. Trump tweeted his reaction to Biden's victory, saying that it "should be the end of Mini Mike Bloomberg's Joke of a campaign."
Bloomberg was not on the ballot in South Carolina, but he will be on the ballot on Super Tuesday.
Voters who cared most about race relations cast their ballots for Biden
The issue that gave Biden his largest margin over his rivals was race relations. Fifty-one percent of those who selected it as their most important issue cast their ballot for Biden. Regardless of which issue voters said was most important to their vote — race relations, healthcare, climate change, or income inequality — Biden carried every group.
Sanders' best issue was income inequality, but he received the support of only 24% of these voters, compared to Biden's 42%.
— David Jones
Ex-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe endorses Biden
On the heels of Biden's projected win in South Carolina, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced he is backing the former vice president.
Virginia is one of the 14 states that will vote on Super Tuesday.
"I think Joe Biden has the best chance of winning Virginia in the general election," McAuliffe said. McAuliffe, the former chair of the DNC, will be with Biden in Norfolk on Sunday night.
The former governor also said he wants a Democratic presidential nominee who will protect and expand Obamacare, which Biden has said he will do.
McAuliffe's endorsement comes one day after the Senator Tim Kaine, the 2016 vice Democratic presidential nominee, endorsed Biden.
68% of voters in South Carolina's open primary identify as Democrats
In South Carolina's open primary, 68% of voters identified themselves as Democrats, 27% were independents and 5% identified as Republicans. Fifty-two percent of Democrats voted for Biden, while independents were split more evenly between Biden (29%) and his nearest rival, Bernie Sanders (25%).
— David Jones
Biden wins most demographic groups, CBS News projects
According to preliminary data from the CBS News exit polling, Biden scored a broad victory, winning most demographic groups. Specifically, Biden won the most votes among both men and women; college and non-college educated voters; liberals, moderates and conservatives; early and late deciders; and in cities, suburbs, and rural areas.
Biden's victory in the state was expected, although the margin of his victory remains to be seen.
Sanders did show strength among a few particular groups, winning among non-college-educated whites, voters under age 40, and those who do not attend church.
— David Jones
80% of Democratic primary voters say they will back the nominee no matter who it is
Overall, 80% of primary voters said they would vote for the Democratic nominee regardless of who it is. However, among voters supporting Sanders, this figure drops to 69%.
Bloomberg, meanwhile, does not get high marks among South Carolina primary voters. (He is not on the ballot in South Carolina.)
Only 25% had a favorable impression of him, and 68% viewed him unfavorably. Klobuchar had the next-higher unfavorable rating, at 48%.
— David Jones
Where the Democratic presidential candidates stand in the national delegate
With the polls in South Carolina set to close at 7 p.m., here is where the Democratic presidential hopefuls stand in the national delegate race following the contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Sanders has amassed 45 national pledged delegates so far, followed by Buttigieg with 26. Biden stands in third with 15 pledged delegates, while Warren has eight and Klobuchar has seven.
Seven Democrats are competing for 54 of the Palmetto State's 63 delegates. The remaining nine automatic delegates, known as super delegates, are unpledged and will be a combination of the state's Democratic members of Congress and the Democratic National Committee.
— Melissa Quinn, Kabir Khanna and LaCrai Mitchell
51% of South Carolina Democrats want the next president to return to Obama's policies
Fifty-one percent of South Carolina Democrats want the next president to return to former President Obama's policies, while roughly 3 in 10 want to change to more liberal policies, according to exit polls. The percentage wanting a return to Obama's policies is currently higher than it was in New Hampshire, which was 40%.
Exit polls showed 38% of voters saying the most important candidate quality was who can bring needed change, followed by 27% preferring someone who can unite the country, and 24% preferring a candidate who cares about me.
While change was the top candidate quality among black voters, it was closely followed by someone who cares about them. Black voters are twice as likely as white voters to say they want a candidate who cares about them.
More than 8 in 10 voters are unhappy with the Trump administration, including about half who are angry with the Trump administration.
More South Carolina Democrats prefer a nominee who can beat Mr. Trump — just over half, compared to the 43% who they agree with on major issues.
More than a third of South Carolina Democratic primary voters decided on their vote choice late
Many Democratic primary voters decided on their vote choice late, according to CBS News exit polls. More than a third of Democratic primary voters decided on their candidate in the last few days. Over twice as many Democratic primary voters decided this late in 2016.
Almost half of South Carolina Democratic primary voters say that Congressman Jim Clyburn's endorsement was an important factor in their vote today. Clyburn is the highest ranking African-American in the House.
Forty-three percent of South Carolina Democrats say Joe Biden is the candidate who best understands the concerns of racial and ethnic minorities, a number that increases to 55% among black voters, ahead of the other candidates.
Health care is the most important issue for voters today – 39% pick it, followed by income inequality (21%), race relations (18%) and climate change (14%). More black voters than white voters choose race relations as their most important issue, but health care is the top priority for black voters.
Bloomberg jokes that Sanders can go to a "KGB bar" in Wilmington, North Carolina
During a campaign event in Wilmington, North Carolina, Bloomberg delivered remarks to his supporters and took the opportunity to highlight the local eateries while poking fun at one of his Democratic presidential competitors, Senator Bernie Sanders.
"I think I'm the only candidate to come to Wilmington, but all of them should visit," Bloomberg said. "Senator Warren could go to Elizabeth's Pizza on Market Street. Klobuchar could do a Flaming Amy's restaurant. Senator Sanders could go to the KGB bar."
The dig prompted boos among the audience, seemingly in opposition to Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist.
"When my speechwriter came up with that one I thought that was pretty good, too," Bloomberg said.
— Melissa Quinn and Tim Perry
Health care rated as most important issue to South Carolina voters
According to CBS exit polls, South Carolina Democratic primary voters rated health care as the issue that mattered most in deciding who to support.
Two in five of these voters selected health care as the most important. Income inequality and race relations were tied for the second most important issue, with about one in five citing each of these. Climate change was decisive for only one in seven voters.
— David Jones
Warren asked about super PAC help
At a town hall in Little Rock, a participant asked Warren about the super PAC supporting her presidential candidacy. Warren has publicly opposed the use of super PACs, and in fact, her website still says, "Elizabeth rejects the help of Super PACs and would disavow any Super PAC formed to support her in the Democratic primary."
Super PACs are political action groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money for candidates and don't need to disclose donors. Within the last couple of weeks, at the presidential debate in Nevada, she said that she and Amy Klobuchar were the only two candidates not using super PACs.
But Warren started accepting the help of the Persist PAC earlier this week. It is spending over $12 million on Warren ads in over a half dozen states. She has said she needed to use it because the other candidates are accepting aid from super PACs.
At the event on Saturday, Warren noted that in her first Senate run in Massachusetts in 2012, she and her opponent, Republican Scott Brown, agreed not to use super PAC money.
In 2020, she said, "I asked everybody to join me in this. And the answer from literally everybody was zero. Crickets. No answer. No one."
She said she's ready any time to drop the super PAC support, but she won't do it alone.
"We could keep super PACs out of this, but it takes everybody following the same set of rules," Warren said. "So, as soon as everybody's ready, I'll lead the charge."
— Zak Hudak and Caroline Linton
Sanders holds rally in Warren's home state
Ahead of Massachusetts voters going to the polls on Super Tuesday, Sanders' campaign said 13,200 people attended his rally Saturday in Boston. He did not mention the South Carolina primary, where he is polling behind Biden.
Despite Massachusetts being Warren's home state, Sanders has opened up a lead, according to a WBUR poll released Friday. The poll had Sanders at 25% and Warren in second place with 17%. Buttigieg had 14%, followed by Bloomberg — who is originally from Medford, Massachusetts — with 13%, and Biden in fourth place with 9%.
— Cara Korte and Caroline Linton
Tom Steyer tweets about viral dance video
After a video went viral among political watchers of Steyer dancing to the song "Back That Azz Up," Steyer tweeted to "dance like nobody's watching."
South Carolina's open Democratic primary means Republicans can vote, too
When South Carolina voters cast their votes in the state's Democratic primary, registered Republicans will also be able to show up and vote. The state's primaries are open, which means all registered South Carolina voters can participate in either party's primary regardless of political affiliation.
Some South Carolina Republicans and Tea Party activists are encouraging Republican voters to participate in Saturday's contest. Karen Martin, organizer of the Spartanburg Tea Party, is leading Trump 229 (229 for February 29th), an effort that's using social media and word-of-mouth to encourage Republicans to vote for Bernie Sanders on Saturday.
The Republican Party announced in September that it would join a list of other states that would not hold a presidential primary this year. Historically, the South Carolina GOP also didn't hold primaries when Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were incumbents in 1984 and 2004, respectively.
Read more on what an open primary means.
"This race is certainly Joe Biden's to lose here in South Carolina," says CBS News' Caitlin Huey-Burns
A Monmouth University poll released Thursday had Biden with a 20-point lead in South Carolina. The former vice president considers the state his "firewall" amid his early-state losses, but Sanders has momentum going into the South Carolina primary.
Who has spent the most time in South Carolina?
Here's a breakdown of each candidate's time in the state:
- Time in state: 24 days, 11 visits
- Staff numbers: 60+
- Office numbers: 7 (Charleston, Columbia (2), Florence, Greenville, Orangeburg, Rock Hill)
- Time in state: 23 days, 12 visits
- Staff numbers: 63 (+2 consultants)
- Office numbers: 9 (Columbia, Florence, Myrtle Beach, North Charleston, Aiken, Orangeburg, Rock Hill, Beaufort, Greenville)
- Time in state:23 days, 10 visits
- Staff numbers: 102
- Office numbers: 4 field offices (Columbia, Charleston, Orangeburg, and Greenville)
- Time in state: 22 days, 15 visits
- Staff numbers: 40+
- Office numbers: 11 field offices
- Time in state: 21 days, 10 visits
- Staff numbers: 55 paid staffers
- Office numbers: 6 offices (Charleston, 2 in Columbia, Beaufort, Rock Hill, and Horry County)
- Time in state: 18 days, 8 visits
- Staff numbers: Estimated to be 2
- Office numbers: N/A
- Time in State: 14 days, 9 visits
- Staff numbers: 25
- Office numbers: N/A