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3 Presidential Campaigns, One State

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Biden actually won one, which admittedly is one more than I thought he’d ever get, and will now win more:

The big headline of this evening is, of course, something we’ve known since the polls first closed at 7 p.m. Biden won, and he won big. This was just the reboot his campaign needed heading into Super Tuesday, too, as we now seem to have a very competitive two-way race between him and Sanders on our hands. Of course, there’s a lot of unknowns for Super Tuesday — and a number of close races — so it’s not entirely clear how South Carolina will factor into all this.

But South Carolina was also an important test of how candidates would perform in a state where the majority of primary voters are black. Biden won these voters decisively, according to exit polls, but as we’ve said on this live blog, don’t assume that the black vote will break down along these lines in other states. That said, the fact that only Biden, Sanders and Steyer were able to crack the double digits among black voters should give some of the other candidates pause, as this is now the second state where Buttigieg, Warren and Klobuchar have struggled to demonstrate that they can build a diverse coalition. We already had one campaign casualty this evening — Steyer dropped out after his disappointing third-place finish.

What matters here is not just that Biden won but that he substantially overperformed even favorable later polls, showing that a bump that will leave him standing after Super Tuesday is at least possible. This also means that it’s a straight two-person race, which as I said earlier is definitely the best thing for the party even though my #1 choice isn’t going to be one of the two people.

I’m far from the first to note this irony, but one potential saving grace for those of us who don’t want Biden to be the nominee is that a lot of people have already voted in California, and while Bloomberg’s influx of cash has no chance of making him the nominee (always remember that whatever she didn’t accomplish Warren crushed him in the debates) it could well leech enough support from Biden to keep him below the 15% threshold in CA, which would probably be a knockout blow for Bernie even if Biden does better than current polling suggests in some other states. Well, egomaniac billionaires owe us a lot more than one, so…

Anyway, here’s one development from tonight everyone can celebrate.

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