Although President Joe Biden's overwhelming victory in South Carolina dispelled any remaining doubts about his path to the Democratic nomination, November enthusiasm remains a source of concern. The lack of support for the current president could spell trouble for the first family's chances of continuing to inhabit the White House, something that is likely a source of frustration to first lady Jill Biden.
Although early voting for African Americans was substantial, overall voter turnout on Saturday was dismal at 4%. Even one of Biden's closest allies conceded that the South would be a difficult region for him to rely on for pickup opportunities in the general election, where he will almost certainly face former President Donald Trump again, as The Washington Examiner reported.
In contrast to the Democratic Party's concerted effort to mobilize voters in support of Biden and his decision to begin his reelection campaign in South Carolina, early voting and overall voter turnout in South Carolina's primary declined significantly in comparison to 2020.
A mere 131,286 residents of South Carolina participated in the Democratic primary, of which 96% supported Biden and 55,000 of those ballots were submitted prior to Saturday.
Prior to the primary, South Carolina had 3,226,353 registered voters, resulting in an exceptionally low participation rate of just over 4%.
In contrast, about 16% of registered South Carolinians participated in the 2020 primary, with Biden receiving nearly 49% of all ballots.
In that contest, Biden defeated Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), businessman Tom Steyer, now-Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to win the nomination in the Palmetto State.
South Carolina's November Republican election outcome is virtually assured, and Biden's strong performance in the Palmetto State does not necessarily indicate the formation of a "new blue wall" in the South, according to a multitude of Biden surrogates and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), co-chairman of Biden's reelection campaign and de facto leader for black voices throughout the region.
However, the state Democratic Party and Biden's campaign successfully mobilized black voters, which allayed some apprehensions regarding their support for the president's reelection.
With Biden's victory, the president increased the proportion of black voters participating in early voting in the state by 13%.
Supporters of Biden immediately cited the increase in the percentage of black voters as a positive indicator for the campaign's grassroots initiatives.
However, Clyburn, who delivered the keynote address at the Democrats' primary night victory party in South Carolina on Saturday, told the Washington Examiner that it is premature to determine whether these strategies will be successful in other Southern states, such as Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida.
“Well, I would hope that we will take a look. We haven’t had a chance to analyze, or at least I haven’t, so I don’t know exactly where these numbers are coming from,” Clyburn said when asked what Saturday’s results mean for Biden’s chances in the general election.
“We’ve only seen the total numbers, and of course, as we’ve learned, winning the total doesn’t mean you win the Electoral College. And so just because we’re winning big all over the state, the question is, where are those votes coming from?”
“No, I don’t think we’re building a new blue wall,” he continued. “We’re just trying to be inclusive in the South. Democrats are trying to be competitive in the South.”