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South Carolina primary live updates: NBC projects Biden wins

Bernie Sanders finished second in the primary, according to an NBC News projection.
Image: Voters will go to the polls in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.
Voters will go to the polls in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Sat., Feb. 29, 2020.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

NBC News projects former Vice President Joe Biden has won the South Carolina primary with heavy support from black and moderate voters.

Saturday's first-in-the-South primary could be a pivotal moment for many of the candidates, especially Biden, who is counting on his projected landslide win here to reinvigorate his candidacy ahead of Super Tuesday.

Also on the ballot were Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was not in the running as he decided to skip the first four nominating contests.

Highlights from the South Carolina primary

Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts on the latest news.

Contested convention talk heats up after Biden's big South Carolina win

Following a commanding win in South Carolina on Saturday, Biden suggested Sunday he's willing to battle through a contested convention should Sanders enter the nominating event with a plurality but not the majority of delegates needed to seal the nomination.

Warren's campaign also signaled Sunday she too plans to fight for the nomination through the convention even if she does not come out of the primaries with the largest delegate total.

Those remarks came after Sanders said at a debate last month that whoever has the most delegates entering the convention, even if it is not a majority, should be the nominee. Rivals have called that a reversal of the Vermont senator's position in 2016 when he ran against Hillary Clinton.

Read more here.

Campaign's next phase: Go big to win or hang on for dear life

WASHINGTON — The Democratic presidential primary is about to super-scale, moving from a series of single-state battles for momentum to a national multi-front war for delegates, putting extra pressure on underdog campaigns that can't raise massive amounts of money or field large armies of supporters in dozens of places at once.

Half the states in the county will vote this month, making the person-to-person politics of the small early states no match for the more-is-more style of campaigning needed to win mega-states like California, Texas, Florida and Illinois, which all vote this month.

The scale of the upcoming contests is enormous. About 10 times as many delegates are at stake on Super Tuesday as were up for grabs in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina combined, and nearly three times as many people have already voted early in California alone as voted in all four early states.

"There are a bunch of candidates who need to ask themselves why they're in this race," said Lilly Adams, a former top aide to Kamala Harris' presidential campaign. "Are they in it today to be introduced as a presidential candidate at events or are they in it to win? If they are the former not the latter then they should get out."

Read more here.

Selma churchgoers turn their backs on Bloomberg during speech

Marianna Sotomayor

Benjamin Pu

Marianna Sotomayor and Benjamin Pu

A group of parishioners stood and turned their backs on Bloomberg as he was speaking during a church service in Selma, Alabama. Bloomberg and several other Democratic candidates visited Selma on Sunday as part of an annual commemoration of the Bloody Sunday marches. 

Around ten people stood up to protest Bloomberg by turning their back to him halfway through his speech. Of those standing, two of them were white and a majority of them were women. It’s unclear exactly what they were protesting about Bloomberg, but it was evident they disagreed with him enough to disrupt a commemorative church service. 

Bloomberg continued speaking and did not react to the protest. He looked unfazed after he finished his speech and returned to the pew.

The protests came after an awkward interaction with Rev. Leodonis Strong, the pastor of Brown AME Church.  Strong noted that Bloomberg had initially declined Strong's offer to visit the church on Sunday, saying he was "too busy defeating Donald Trump."

The congregants laughed. Moments after Bloomberg began to speak, Strong came back on stage to clarify that he thinks it’s important he came because "it shows willingness on his part to change."

Senate candidate: S.C. turnout sign of changing South

Trump reignites Bloomberg feud, says billionaire on 'a very dark and lonely path'

Trump reignited his feud with Bloomberg, targeting his advisers in tweets overnight Saturday into Sunday morning.

"Mini Mike Bloomberg’s consultants and so-called 'advisors'(how did that advice work out? Don’t ask!), are on the 'gravy train' and all making a fortune for themselves pushing Mini hard, when they knew he never had what it takes," Trump tweeted in the first of two tweets. "Don’t pay them anymore Mike, they led you down a very dark and lonely path! Your reputation will never be the same!"

Just after midnight, Trump pointed to Steyer exiting the race, saying that he would "find it hard to believe" that Steyer or Bloomberg "would contribute to the Democrat Party, even against me, after the way they have been treated — laughed at & mocked."

"The real politicians ate them up and spit them out!" he added.

Read more here.

Candidates need young people to boost Latino voter turnout. Here's why.

Ofelia Alonso, 24, thinks there's a big misconception that most Latinos are "part of an older generation who doesn't care about politics."

That's why she's wasn't surprised that 75 percent of young Latinos in Texas had not heard from any presidential campaign in the last six months, according to a poll from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), which studies young Americans’ political engagement.

"Organizers are the ones engaging with young Latino voters here, not the parties, not candidates," said Alonso, a field coordinator for the grassroots organization Texas Rising in the Rio Grande Valley.

"I often ask myself why people insist on saying that we're not involved, and it's because we're not included in these conversations," she said. "Candidates are not coming to engage with us."

Read more here.

Buttigieg: Campaign pressing onto Super Tuesday despite South Carolina result

WASHINGTON — Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg told "Meet the Press" Sunday his campaign is pressing on after a fourth-place finish in South Carolina's Democratic primary, arguing that his message has "resonated across the country." 

Buttigieg said that his campaign has been able to "beat the odds and defy all the expectations" before, but he added that he's keeping an eye on how he can best help the party defeat President Trump in November.

"Every day I'm getting up, looking at how we can do what's best for the party. It's why we got into this race in the first place, the belief that a different kind of message and a different kind of messenger could rally people together, could forge new alliances, could help us reach out in the very places where we have the best messaging, yet found ourselves defeated by President Trump in 2016 and we cannot let that happen again," he said.

"And every day we're in this campaign is a day that we've reached the conclusion that pushing forward is the best thing that we can do for the country and for the party."

Warren campaign memo: 'We're in this race for the long haul'

Ali Vitali

HOUSTON — Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is making clear that they’re not going anywhere — and that, when the primary’s said and done, they believe no one will hit the delegate majority needed to claim the nomination outright. 

“We’re in this race for the long haul,” campaign manager Roger Lau wrote in a new memo out to supporters Sunday morning, in which he touted the campaign's biggest fundraising totals ever, increased ad buys in key upcoming states, and — citing “internal projections” — an expected “sizable” delegate haul on Super Tuesday from “nearly every state.”

The memo comes a day after the Massachusetts senator finished a distant fifth in South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary and does not name one state that they expect to outright win come Tuesday.

After placing third in Iowa in early February, Warren has not won any new delegates since — leaving her fourth overall in the field for delegate totals.

But the campaign points to the $29 million they say they raised in February means she has the ability to stay in the race. The campaign says their movement is now 1.25 million grassroots donors strong, with an average donation of $31. 

Warren’s team, like the other campaigns in a similar position, argues that “Super Tuesday will greatly winnow this field." And, they say that all of their Super Tuesday staffers and organizers will be re-deployed after Tuesday to states voting later in the calendar.

The memo says that “as the dust settles after March 3rd, the reality of this race will be clear: no candidate will likely have a path to the majority of delegates needed to win an outright claim to the Democratic nomination.”

The campaign also says it has increased Super Tuesday ad spending and that they’re also spending for states down the road. According to Lau, they’ve made more than $4.1 million in paid media investments in Wisconsin, as well as later March states — with a special, six-figure focus on black-owned radio stations across the March states.

“After Wisconsin nearly one-third of the pledged delegates will still be waiting to be elected, and there will be a three-week gap between electing delegates for the first time since voting began,” Lau writes. “In the road to the nomination, the Wisconsin primary is halftime, and the convention in Milwaukee is the final play.”

Sanders leads in Texas, is tied with Biden in N.C., new NBC News/Marist polls find

Mark Murray

WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders holds a double-digit lead over his closest Democratic rival in Texas, while he’s essentially tied with Joe Biden in North Carolina, according to a pair of NBC News/Marist polls of these two key Super Tuesday states taken before Biden's convincing victory in South Carolina.

In Texas, which will award a total of 228 pledged delegates in the Democratic contest on March 3, Sanders gets the support of 34 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, and Biden gets 19 percent.

In North Carolina, which will award 110 delegates on the same day, Sanders gets support from 26 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, while Biden gets 24 percent — well within the poll’s margin of error.

Read here for the full story.

Biden takes aim at Sanders' 'very controversial' ideas after S.C. win

Biden took aim at Sanders on Sunday, saying on "Meet the Press" that Sanders’ policies are “controversial” and that the Vermont senator would lose to President Donald Trump if he were the Democratic nominee.

Americans "are not looking for revolution, they are looking for results, they’re looking for change, they’re looking for movement forward,” Biden said hours after he trounced Sanders in South Carolina's primary.

Read more here.

NBC News Exit Poll: Who first-time voters supported in South Carolina

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

Sanders' and Buttigieg's performances were stronger among first-time voters than among return voters in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary, according to the NBC News Exit Poll.

They are the only candidates remaining in the race to consistently over-perform with first-time voters in the early state Democratic nomination contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, suggesting that they both are unusually successful at attracting new voters to the polls.

In notching his second place victory in South Carolina, Sanders received the support of 26 percent of those who said they were voting in their first Democratic presidential primary. That far exceeded his performance of 18 percent among those who had voted before.

Buttigieg finished far behind both Sanders and primary winner Biden in South Carolina. But he managed to get the votes of 16 percent of those participating in a primary for the first time. That was nearly triple Buttigieg’s support of 5 percent among those who had previously voted in a primary.

Biden's support among first-time voters, at 33 percent, was less than his support among return voters, which was  52 percent. Steyer did about equally well among both groups of voters.

Buttigieg wins just 2 percent of black voters in South Carolina, exit polls show

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Pete Buttigieg won just 2 percent of black voters in South Carolina en route to a landslide defeat in the Democratic primary here, according to NBC News exit polls.

The disappointing result is likely to reinforce doubts about Buttigieg on an issue that has dogged him throughout his campaign — his struggles to win votes from one of the party’s most influential constituencies, one that has powered the winner of every contested Democratic primary since 1992.

The NBC News exit poll found that Biden won 64 percent of the black vote, followed by Sanders with 15 percent, Steyer with 13 percent, and Warren with 4 percent. The exit poll said South Carolina’s electorate is 57 percent African American, the first majority-black primary on the calendar.

Congratulating Biden on his victory Saturday night, Buttigieg addressed the black community.

"I want to thank voters in South Carolina, especially black voters who showed that famous southern hospitality over the last year, welcoming us into their homes and churches and neighborhoods and businesses," he said.

Buttigieg thanks S.C. supporters 'especially black voters,' but fails to get African-American backing

Pete Buttigieg thanked his supporters, “especially black voters," on Saturday night after appearing to suffer a heavy loss in South Carolina, where he invested heavily in and ultimately failed to gain support from African-American voters.

Running for president, Buttigieg told supporters at an event in Raleigh, North Carolina, was an “exercise in hope and humility, and we’ve come down south filled with both.” 

Buttigieg congratulated former Vice President Joe Biden on his win in South Carolina and attempted to look past the difficult loss, saying he was proud of the “votes we earned and am proud to earn every vote on the road ahead.”

Gaining the support of black voters became an immense challenge for Buttigieg in South Carolina, where the Democratic Party is much more diverse than the contests in which he did particularly well.

Despite spending more time in South Carolina than other candidates and focusing on reaching out to the black community, A Monmouth University poll of likely Democratic voters in the state released Thursday found that the former Indianapolis mayor had only 2 percent backing from African Americans.  

After finishing his speech with the announcement that “in 2020 we are ready to come together to end the era of Donald Trump and launch the era that must come next,” Buttigieg opened up his event to questions from the audience.  

Watch Buttigieg's full speech.

Klobuchar says she is 'headed into Super Tuesday' despite poor showing in S.C.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., spoke at the Blue North Carolina Celebration in Charlotte Saturday night, assuring the crowd she is still in the race despite her dismal results in the South Carolina primary. 

“Here I am, headed into Super Tuesday,” Klobuchar said. North Carolina votes on Super Tuesday, or March 3.

With 69 percent reporting, Klobuchar had received 3 percent of the vote — far below the 15 percent threshold needed to receive any delegates.  

“If you feel stuck in the middle of the extremes in our politics, you've got a home with me,” she added.

Billionaire Tom Steyer quits Democratic primary race

Adam Edelman, Allan Smith and Jordan Jackson

Tom Steyer, the California activist billionaire who has largely been a nonfactor in the Democratic primary campaign, dropped out of the race on Saturday night.

Steyer made the announcement following a disappointing finish in the South Carolina Democratic primary Saturday night. With 56 percent of the vote in, Steyer had just 11.7 percent of the vote — despite spending millions of dollars on campaigning there.

Steyer had initially opted against entering the presidential race before reversing course and joining the large field in July. He spent exorbitant sums of his own money on the race, outpaced in the Democratic field by another late-entrant, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire media mogul.

Read the full story here. Watch Steyer's full speech after quitting the Democratic race.

After Joe Biden's win, Bloomberg emphasizes his endless 'resources'

At the Blue North Carolina Celebration dinner in Charlotte, Bloomberg focused his remarks on his heavy investment in the state— 10 offices and 124 staffers — his nearly endless resources and his differences with President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg highlighted his ability to spend his immense wealth on the election and took credit for flipping 21 House seats in the 2018 midterm elections to make Nancy Pelosi the speaker. All his efforts, he said, were to hold Trump accountable.  

"If you think my campaign is expensive, just think what four more years of Donald Trump will cost our country," he said, also slinging several arrows at the president for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Bloomberg also dismissed his poor debate performances, which has caused his campaign to stumble. His opponents, particularly Warren, hit Bloomberg numerous times during his previous two appearances.

But none of that mattered, the New York City billionaire said, the country needed "a commander-in-chief, not a college debater-in-chief."

Warren attacks Sanders, Biden, Bloomberg and says her campaign is 'build for the long haul'

Dartunorro Clark

Warren went back to her old stomping grounds to address supporters in Houston, where she previously taught at the local university, after a tough projected loss in the South Carolina primary. 

"Our campaign is built for the long haul - and we’re looking forward to these big contests," she said, referring to Super Tuesday. 

She framed her speech around the threat of coronavirus and excoriated Trump's response to the fears of a possible global pandemic, pointing to a series of plans she plans to release to protect public health and the American economy.

"This moment is a reminder of what qualities we need in a president - and what qualities are so sorely lacking in the one we have," she said. 

She also took direct shots at Biden, Sanders and Bloomberg.

"Let’s be blunt. This crisis demands more than a billionaire mayor who believes that since he’s rich enough to buy network airtime to pretend he’s the president, that entitles him to be president," she said. "This crisis demands more than a former vice president so eager to cut deals with Mitch McConnell and the Republicans that he’ll trade good ideas for bad ones."

She added, "This crisis demands more than a senator who has good ideas, but whose 30-year track record shows he consistently calls for things he fails to get done, and consistently opposes things he nevertheless fails to stop."

Watch Warren's full speech.

Biden: My campaign is 'very much alive'

Hours after he was projected to win the South Carolina Democratic primary in a landslide victory, Joe Biden excitedly thanked his supporters and loudly declared that his campaign “was very much alive.”

“To all of those who have been knocked down, counted out and left behind, this is your campaign,” Biden said to a raucous crowd at his state campaign headquarters in Columbia, S.C.

Image: Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Holds South Carolina Primary Night Event In Columbia
Joe Biden speaks at his primary night event at the University of South Carolina on Feb. 29, 2020 in Columbia, S.C.Scott Olson / Getty Images

Biden said that the “the press and the pundits had declared this candidacy dead,” but “now, thanks to all of you, the heart of the Democratic Party, we won and we won big because of you.”

“And we are very much alive,” he continued. “This campaign is taking off!”

“You brought me back,” he added, prompting screaming and applause.

Biden also took a thinly veiled shot at Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist who had been deemed the front-runner in the race.

America, he said, “wants a nominee who is a Democrat … a proud Democrat.”

Watch Biden's full South Carolina victory speech.

NBC News Exit Poll: Generational divide separates Biden, Sanders supporters

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

Joe Biden won today’s primary by amassing an overwhelming margin among the state’s African American voters. But black Democrats’ support for Biden is far from uniform: According to the NBC News Exit Poll, the former vice president faces a robust challenge from Sanders for the votes of the youngest generation of African Americans.

Biden’s support among African American voters was strongest among those aged 65 and over: He crushed Sanders with this group, 81 percent to 8 percent. But at each step down the generational ladder, Biden’s performance with blacks worsened and Sanders improved. Among black Democrats under age 30, Sanders came within 4 points of tying Biden.

Biden performed better with blacks than whites among all ages, but a parallel generational pattern emerged among whites: he beat Sanders among white Democrats 45 and over, but lost by substantial margins among younger whites — getting just 10 percent of the vote among whites aged 17 to 29.

Clyburn lauds Biden as 'real good man' before his S.C. victory speech

Rep. Jim Clyburn whose endorsement of Biden ahead of the South Carolina Democratic primary helped catapult him to a projected landslide win introduced the former veep ahead of his victory speech Saturday night, lauding him as a "real good man."

"This campaign, this year, is about the goodness of America," Clyburn said at Biden's South Carolina campaign headquarters in Columbia.

"And our candidate is a real good man," he said. 

Biden earned a major boost from Clyburn, the most powerful Democrat in South Carolina and the highest-ranking black member of Congress, who endorsed him Wednesday and is already slated to campaign for him in neighboring North Carolina and other upcoming states.

Around half of voters said Clyburn’s endorsement was an important factor in their decision, according to NBC News exit polls.

'You cannot win ‘em all': Sanders downplays loss in South Carolina

Sanders downplayed his loss in the South Carolina primary Saturday evening, telling supporters at a campaign event in Virginia Beach that "you cannot win ‘em all."

"I am very proud that in this campaign. So far we have won the popular vote in Iowa. We have won the New Hampshire primary. We have won the Nevada caucus," Sanders said. "But you cannot win ‘em all."

"A lot of states out there and tonight we did not win in South Carolina. And that will not be the only defeat, there are a lot of states," Sanders said, congratulating Biden on his win. 

With 19 percent in, Biden had 51.3 percent and Sanders had 17.8 percent. 

Sanders told his supporters that he looked forward to Super Tuesday next week where he hoped to have a strong showing. Virginia, where Sanders campaigned as the South Carolina results rolled in, votes on Super Tuesday. 

Watch Sanders' full South Carolina primary speech.

Medicare for All is supported by most Democrats in all four early states

Most Democrats in the first four presidential primary states support Medicare for All, according to NBC News exit or entrance polls. Support was 57 percent to 38 percent in Iowa, 58 percent to 37 percent in New Hampshire, 62 percent to 35 percent in Nevada, and 50 percent to 44 percent in South Carolina.

The broad support for Bernie Sanders' signature issue within the party spans four primary electorates with widely varying demographic makeups.

The exact wording of the NBC News questionnaire was: "How do you feel about replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan for everyone?"

Bernie Sanders will finish second in the primary and win at least 3 delegates, NBC News projects

NBC News

NBC News projects that Bernie Sanders will finish second in the South Carolina primary and will win at least three delegates.

The projection comes with less than 20 percent of the results in and amid strong support among black and moderate voters for Joe Biden, NBC News' projected winner. 

NBC News Exit Poll: Bloomberg finds little love from South Carolina Democrats

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

As in the previous early state contests for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Mike Bloomberg was not on the ballot in today’s South Carolina primary. Bloomberg’s half-billion-dollar nationwide advertising blitz was also largely absent from the state. 

But South Carolina Democrats aren’t shy about expressing sharply sour opinions about the former New York City mayor, results from the NBC News Exit Poll show.

Just a quarter of South Carolina Democratic primary voters say they have a favorable opinion of Bloomberg. That’s dwarfed by the share — two-thirds — who view him unfavorably.

NBC News Exit Poll: As race turns negative, only Biden viewed highly favorably in South Carolina

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

Only Joe Biden emerged unscathed in South Carolina after the campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination entered a sharply negative phase, according to results from the NBC News Exit Poll.

As they left the polls today, voters offered an overwhelmingly positive opinion of the former vice president: 76 percent said they viewed Biden favorably, while just 20 percent viewed him unfavorably.

Those numbers put Biden well ahead of his closest rivals in South Carolina. Voters gave billionaire Tom Steyer a rating of 55 percent favorable to 37 percent unfavorable. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s rating was 53 percent to 41 percent. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s favorable to unfavorable rating was 50 percent to 42 percent.

Biden's win can only mean a Trump victory in the fall, RNC and Trump campaign predict

The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee predicted Saturday that Biden's victory in the South Carolina primary will lead only to one result: a victory for President Donald Trump in November.

"After more than three decades of trying, Joe Biden finally won a presidential primary state, but this win does not equal momentum," RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said. "Today’s result all but guarantees that this primary process isn’t ending anytime soon. President Trump will beat whichever socialist the Democrats — eventually — nominate this November."

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said the president was the "clear winner" regardless of the result.

"The President will be running on his solid record of achievement for all Americans and will wipe the floor with whichever Democrat is unlucky enough to emerge," he said in a statement. "The South Carolina results just prove what a hot mess the Democrat primaries are, as the field once again descends into chaos heading into Super Tuesday. We don’t know who the eventual nominee will be, but they are all the same, and their radical big government socialist policies will be on the Democrat ballot in November no matter what.”

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe endorses Biden after S.C. win

Dartunorro Clark

Democratic former Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe endorsed Biden on CNN after NBC News projected him the winner of the South Carolina primary. 

McAuliffe, a well-known figure within the party, also strongly urged other candidates who have no realistic path forward to drop out. 

"I've thought long and hard about this," he said. "For me, it's about beating Donald Trump and to me it's an electability issue who has the best shot at beating Donald Trump." 

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the 2016 vice presidential nominee, also endorsed Biden this week. This is an important boost for Biden's campaign as establishment Democrats line up behind the former vice president as he tries to get back his front-runner status from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. The endorsement of Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., was also a factor in Biden's primary win. 

McAuliffe said that Biden will join him at an event in Norfolk, Va. on Sunday and believes Biden "has the best chance at winning Virginia in the general."  

NBC News Exit Poll: Black primary voters moderate, religious and return voters

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

South Carolina is the first contest in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to feature a sizable share of black voters. Results from today’s NBC News Exit Poll find that the state’s black voters defy conventional stereotypes about Democrats being liberal, highly educated and nonreligious. 

More than half of black Democrats in South Carolina, 54 percent, say they are moderate or conservative — that’s nine points higher than whites in the state. A majority of black Democrats, 57 percent, in the state attend religious services at least weekly, a number nearly 30 points higher than among whites. And 28 percent of black Democrats in the state hold a college degree, compared to 58 percent of whites, according to the exit poll.

Based upon their reports of their previous voting activity, black voters show up to Democratic primaries on a regular basis. A total of 89 percent of black Democrats voting today said they’d voted before in a primary, compared to just 70 percent of white Democrats.

Group preps $4 million Super Tuesday push to stop Sanders

A new group of moderate Democrats trying to stop Bernie Sanders from winning their party’s presidential nomination is preparing to spend nearly $4 million hitting the Vermont senator in the final days before Super Tuesday, the group's executive director told NBC News.

Big Tent Project, which came together in recent weeks as some Democratic donors and operatives grew concerned about Sanders’ strength in Iowa and New Hampshire, has already spent about $1 million in Nevada and South Carolina on ads arguing Sanders is a radical who will lose to President Donald Trump.

Now, the group is quadrupling that amount to run digital ads and send mailers hitting Sanders in Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, North Carolina, Texas, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and California, which all vote Tuesday.

"Big Tent Project is spending nearly $4 million on ads in Super Tuesday states to provide voters with the facts about Bernie Sanders radical record before they vote," said the group’s executive director, Jonathan Kott, a former top aide to West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

One ad, which ran in Nevada and will now run again in Texas in both Spanish and English, accuses Sanders of allowing nuclear waste to be dumped near a poor Latino town in Texas ( calls the ad misleading). 

Another says "socialist Bernie Sanders" would lead to "another four years of Donald Trump."

The group is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, meaning it may never have to disclose its donors.

Trump: Biden's victory should spell end to Bloomberg's 'Joke of a campaign'

NBC News Exit Poll: Blacks, moderates hand Biden a big win in South Carolina

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

Joe Biden owes his off-the-ropes victory in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary to the solid support he received from the state’s black, religious and moderate Democrats, according to the NBC News Exit Poll.

Biden was the overwhelming favorite of the state’s black Democrats: He received 60 percent of their votes. His performance among African Americans was far ahead of his nearest rival, Bernie Sanders, who got just 17 percent of the black vote.

NBC News projected Biden the winner as polls closed at 7 p.m. ET.

Biden also garnered the support of about half of voters who called themselves either moderate or conservative, and half of those attending religious services weekly. Biden was also the top choice of South Carolina Democrats who care most about nominating a candidate who “can unite the country”: He received 55 percent of their votes.


Biden thanks supporters after win

A first for Biden

NBC News


South Carolina exit polls: More black, moderate voters turn out

Patrick J. Egan

Jane C. Timm and Patrick J. Egan

Voters in South Carolina’s primary were more diverse and more moderate than those in the first three early-state contests for the Democratic presidential nomination, early results from the NBC News Exit Poll shows.

More than half of those voting in Saturday's primary — 55 percent — identified as African American, a dramatically higher share than in the Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada Democratic presidential contests. Just half of voters said they consider themselves to be liberal, compared to all the previous contests where liberals made up at least six-in-ten voters. And just four-in-ten South Carolina voters said they hold a college degree; by contrast, college graduates were in the majority of the electorates in the first three contests.

Read more on the exit poll results.

Biden wins South Carolina primary

Joe Biden will notch a victory in the South Carolina primary on Saturday night, buoyed by strong support from African American voters, NBC News projects.

The double-digit win for Biden, along with the likelihood of collecting many or most of the 54 delegates at stake, gives his campaign a much-needed shot in the arm ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries next week.

NBC News Exit Poll: Black voters want a return to Obama era, whites want to go more liberal

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

Two out of three black voters in today’s South Carolina Democratic presidential primary want the next president to return to Barack Obama’s policies, early results from the NBC News Exit Poll show. The other black voters are split nearly evenly between wanting a more liberal or a more conservative path as compared to Obama’s policies.

For many white Democrats, however, a return to the Obama era isn’t enough: They want a president who will pursue more liberal policies. A plurality of white Democrats in South Carolina, 43 percent, favor a change to more liberal policies. Meanwhile, 34 percent want a return to Obama’s policies. Another 20 percent of white Democrats think the next president should change to more conservative policies.

Election Confessions, South Carolina edition

South Carolina is the last of the early state presidential contests to precede Super Tuesday and also the most diverse among them. The question everyone’s asking heading into Saturday’s election: Which way will it go?

NBC News has asked its readers since last summer to anonymously ‘confess’ what they really think about the presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican.

On Election Confessions, people from across the United States have shared more than 60,000 short ideas about the candidates and the country. Many of those provided their locations (as determined by their internet connection).

Here are some of the more notable confessions from the Palmetto State.

NBC News Exit Poll: More white voters 'angry' with Trump than black voters in South Carolina

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

"Angry" is the word nearly two out of three white Democrats are using to describe their feelings about the Trump administration as they vote in South Carolina’s presidential primary today, early results from the NBC News Exit Poll show.

Another quarter of white Democrats say they’re dissatisfied with Trump. By contrast, black Democrats’ reactions to the Trump administration are less heated: Just 37 percent say they’re angry, and 46 percent say they’re dissatisfied.

NBC News Exit Poll: Half of South Carolina primary voters want economic overhaul

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

Early results from the NBC News Exit Poll show that about half of voters in today’s South Carolina Democratic presidential primary expressed widespread dissatisfaction with the nation’s economic system.

South Carolina’s unemployment rate is currently just 2.3 percent, the lowest it’s been in decades. Nevertheless, a majority of the state’s Democratic voters — 51 percent — say the U.S. economic system “needs a complete overhaul,” while another 35 percent say it warrants “minor changes.” Just one in 10 voters think the economy works well enough “as is.”

Clyburn: 'I'm not going to sit idly by and watch people mishandle' Biden's campaign

Dartunorro Clark

CHARLESTON, S.C. — South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the House minority whip, criticized Joe Biden's campaign in a CNN interview on Saturday, arguing that the former vice president must "re-tool" his candidacy to continue to be competitive. 

Clyburn, who holds considerable sway in South Carolina, endorsed Biden earlier this week. His support could give the campaign a boost among Black voters, a key demographic to win, after disappointing finishes in previous contests. 

"I did not feel free to speak about it or to even deal with inside because I had not committed to his candidacy. I have now, and I'm all in and I'm not going to sit idly by and watch people mishandle this campaign," Clyburn said. "We're going to get it right."

As voters head to the polls on Saturday, Clyburn said he hopes Biden can have a decisive enough victory that it resets his campaign and makes him competitive on Super Tuesday.

“If South Carolinians were to reset his campaign here this evening, I really believe it would give him the legs he needs to go the distance,” Clyburn said. "If we are successful tonight in this campaign, if he has a re-launch, I think we will have to sit down and get serious about how we re-tool this campaign, how we re-tool the fundraising, how we do the [Get Out The Vote] and at that point in time, many of us around the country will be able to join with him and help him get it right."

NBC News Exit Poll: A quarter of Sanders Democrats can’t guarantee they’ll support party nominee

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

One in four South Carolina supporters of Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders won’t pledge to vote for the party’s nominee in the 2020 general election, early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of primary voters show.

That’s lower than the South Carolina primary electorate as whole: Roughly one in six of the state’s Democratic voters can’t say they will vote for the party’s ticket regardless of who ultimately wins the nomination.

NBC News Exit Poll: 'Medicare for All' goes four for four in primary contests so far

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

A proposal to replace all private insurance with a single government plan for all Americans is finding majority support among voters in all four early state Democratic presidential contests, results from the NBC News Exit Poll show. 

An idea whose appeal was once limited to the most liberal wing of the Democratic Party, “Medicare for All” is favored by a majority of voters in today’s presidential primary in South Carolina, which features the most moderate Democratic electorate so far in 2020. Support for the plan in the Southern state isn’t quite as high as among Democrats in Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada, where an average of six in 10 voters expressed support for it.

Democrats in Trump districts cast a nervous eye at a surging Sanders

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Few people sound more excited about the prospect of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., winning the Democratic nomination than South Carolina Republicans.

"It's the best-case scenario," said Republican state Rep. Nancy Mace, who is running for her party's nomination to challenge freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham. "Really, it's the best-case scenario for any Republican on the ballot."

South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, which covers over 100 miles of coast from north of Charleston down to Hilton Head Island, has long been a Republican stronghold. The district voted for Donald Trump by more than 13 points in 2016 and for Mitt Romney by more than 18 points in 2012.

Cunningham, 37, a former ocean engineer and Charleston-based lawyer, won the district by a slim 1.4 percentage points in 2018, becoming the first Democrat to represent the area since the 1970s.

Sanders' rise has many Democrats here worried that Cunningham's seat — the object of one of the most competitive House races in the country — would be even more vulnerable if a democratic socialist were at the top of the party's ticket in November. In conversations with down-ballot Democratic candidates and strategists here, many said they were crossing their fingers in hope that Sanders' momentum would come to a halt in South Carolina's primary this weekend.

Read more here.

NBC News Exit Poll: Democrats prioritize beating Trump over ideological purity

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

Slightly more than half of South Carolina Democrats said they prioritize beating Trump over a candidate who agrees with them on issues, early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of primary voters show.

South Carolina Democrats aren’t quite as focused on victory in November as their counterparts in the other 2020 contests held so far: In Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, more than six in 10 voters said they’re rather see a nominee who can beat Trump.

NBC News Exit Poll: South Carolina first early state contest with strong presence of African American voters

NBC News Exit Poll Desk

Today’s South Carolina Democratic primary features an electorate that differs sharply in many ways from the previous three early voting states in the 2020 race, early results from the NBC Exit Poll show.

More than half of those voting in South Carolina identify as African American, a share dramatically higher than in the Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada 2020 Democratic contests. Just half of voters consider themselves to be liberal; in all previous states liberals made up at least six in 10 voters. And just four in 10 South Carolina voters today hold a college degree. By contrast, college graduates were the majority of electorates in the first three contests.

NAACP president: To us, SC is beginning of primary season

Warren defends super PAC support in front of supporters

Ryan Beals

Phil McCausland and Ryan Beals

Warren on Saturday defended taking donations from a super PAC that formed ahead of the Nevada caucuses to give her campaign a boost.

The Massachusetts senator had previously criticized the use of political action committees and promised not to use them, but as her opponents continue to benefit from their own PACs, she explained that she had changed her mind.

"There's a super PAC now that's come in for me, and I get it, there are people who want to try to get women elected," Warren said at the rally in Little Rock, Arkansas, the first time she addressed the issue at such a venue. "They feel really frustrated that they haven't had an opportunity to do that. But my view on this is, we could keep super PACs out of this, but it takes everybody following the same set of rules. So as soon as everybody's ready, I'll lead the charge and we'll keep the super PACs out because I think that's the right way to do it."

The organization, Persist PAC, announced previously that it's spending $9 million in television and digital ads in multiple Super Tuesday states on Warren's behalf. 

South Carolina voters with no insurance, deep medical debt swayed by health care

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — After years of hard work, Ashley Myers finally realized her dream of owning a women’s fashion store and a beauty shop directly across the street from each other in this small, predominantly black city. But as the costs of her health care plan rose a year ago, she could only keep one storefront open.

Today, as the owner and the sole employee of the combined beauty shop and fashion store, she pays $800 a month for her insurance premiums, but she said it really only helps in dire circumstances. Otherwise, she pays so much out of pocket that she feels only as well off as her uninsured brother — he only sees a doctor in the emergency room, where he racks up huge medical bills.

“I try to be smart about when I go to the doctor and make sure I have the money or else they take it away from my business,” Myers, 35, said.

For many in this city of 13,000, health care and insurance are foremost ahead of Saturday’s Democratic primary, when South Carolina voters will likely weigh the medical plans proposed by the different presidential candidates. The most radical idea of "Medicare for All" is beginning to appeal to some like Myers, who are worried about their own pocketbooks or concerned for family and friends who don't have insurance.

Read more here.

NBC News

South Carolina Democratic Party anticipating high turnout

Melissa Holzberg

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson said Saturday afternoon that just under 80,000 absentee ballots were sent in for the Democratic presidential primary, outpacing both the 2016 and 2018 elections. 

“In the past, absentee balloting has always been an indicator, an early indicator of what turnout is going to be in South Carolina,” Robertson said. 

SCDP executive director Jay Parmley added that the party could see voter turnout approach 2008 numbers — the highest numbers seen in a primary in the state. 

“If we get anywhere near that half million mark, there will have been more votes cast here today than cast in the previous three contests,” Parmley said. 

Of votes cast in South Carolina, Robertson anticipates non-white voters could make up more than half of the electorate. 

“We anticipate that the significant number of non-white voters will make up anywhere from 55 to 62, 63 percent of the electorate,” Robertson said. 

But primary day hasn’t been without some minor issues. Robertson and Parmley confirmed some confusion over the fact that some polling locations have been consolidated and moved in accordance to S.C. law to as a cost saving measure

“We’ve had about 132 calls to our actual system today, and primarily most of that deals with locations,” Robertson said. Parmley said that there were several consolidations made, and “two or three counties” undertook “fairly significant consolidation efforts.” 

Parmley and Robertson stressed that those issues have been “routine” and not wide-ranging.  

Who won the Democratic debate in South Carolina?

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Democrats threw everything they had at Bernie Sanders, and if the 10th debate here didn't slow his march to the nomination it's not clear anything will.

Mike Bloomberg told him Russia wants him to be the nominee so he can lose to President Donald Trump. Elizabeth Warren said she'd be a better president than him and took him to task for supporting the Senate filibuster. Joe Biden went after him for voting against gun control and floating a primary challenge against President Barack Obama in 2012. Pete Buttigieg said House Democrats are fleeing his agenda. Amy Klobuchar argued she was the most anti-Sanders candidate on the stage.

At one point, Sanders offered a knowing grin.

"I'm hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight. I wonder why?" the front-runner quipped.

Here's how the candidates performed in a debate that repeatedly descended into yelling matches rife with interruptions that captured the tension of the larger contest.

Read more here.

South Carolina is big test for new style of voting system sweeping the nation

South Carolina is the first statewide presidential election primary to be run completely on a new expensive breed of hybrid voting system that's been massively marketed by the nation’s top election system vendors but also criticized by some election integrity advocates.

Last June, the state announced that market leader Election Systems and Software had won a $51 million contract to replace the state’s aging and sometimes glitchy equipment, which didn’t produce an auditable paper trail, with a new system that combines touchscreen vote casting with a printed paper ballot.

This year, nearly all states will rely on this style of device, which voting system vendors have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying local officials to purchase. 

Image: South Carolina primary
A woman casts her ballot at a polling station for the South Carolina primary in Indian Land, S.C., on Feb. 29, 2020.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Proponents of the systems say the devices offer a “familiar” touchscreen similar to what voters have been used to using, but which eliminate issues like stray marks and other voter errors and are accessible to all voters, including those with disabilities. Addressing concerns about hacking or malfunctions that arose after 2016 Russian interference, it also produces a paper trail that can be audited or hand-counted. 

But election integrity advocates note that the paper ballot produced by the machine embeds the voter's choice in a barcode. While the device prints the selection in plain text below the barcode, the voter can’t tell if the barcode and the text match. The machines are several times more expensive than the most widely used method and the one endorsed by most election security experts: hand-marked paper ballots.

Vendors argue that there is no difference between the mapping of a barcode and the mapping of oval positions on a hand-marked ballot to voter selections. The state Election Commission says the machines are tested before voting and the results will be audited. Scanned images will be made available to anyone who wants to count the ballots and verify results. South Carolina election officials say the new machines have been tested in more than 200 local elections, and they’re confident the devices are ready for their primary debut.

'The black man's country club': To understand black voters, look to their barbershops

Dartunorro Clark

Image: Barber Anderson J. Washington with veteran Charles Peaks at CJ's Barbershop.
Barber Anderson J. Washington with veteran Charles Peaks at CJ's Barbershop.Sean Rayford / for NBC News

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Lucciono's barbershop owner ReCarlo Lewis is arguing with one of his barbers about the Democratic presidential candidates while the two men cut clients.

Lewis, 36, thinks the field is too weak and no one will beat President Donald Trump. The barber Eldred Anderson, 35, agrees but is leaning toward supporting billionaire businessman Tom Steyer in Saturday's First in the South primary.

"I kinda like some of the stuff he’s talking about," Anderson said. "But he won’t be as strong against Trump."

"To me, it’s not really a strong, strong, Democratic candidate — somebody that you feel can beat Trump," Lewis said. "You know how Trump operates, he uses guerrilla tactics. Trump has a personality that none of them have."

Anderson said he didn’t vote in 2016 because he didn’t like Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and he may not vote this year either. He said if candidates spent more time in shops like this one, maybe he would vote.

"The barbershop plays a big role in the black community — from clothes, style, sports, politics. Maybe they should try to get more in tune with barbershops to understand what we care about," he said. "I want to hear less about who they are and more about the issues."

Read more here.

In the South Carolina primary, Clyburn endorsements carry political weight

Janell Ross

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Jennifer Clyburn Reed, the middle daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, has become a one-woman welcoming committee for ambitious Democrats in South Carolina.

She visited a historic marketplace with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and small businesses owned by black women with Sen. Kamala Harris, set up informal meet and greets with voters and attended campaign events for each of the 12 different Democratic presidential candidates when they visited the state. Three campaigns asked outright for her endorsement.

Clyburn Reed’s father, after all, is the senior ranking black American in Congress.

James Clyburn, a Democrat who joined Congress in 1993, has endorsed three presidential candidates since that time: John Kerry in 2004, Hillary Clinton in 2016 and, now, Joe Biden.

The potential influence he and his family wield in South Carolina is apparent to anyone in the state with a television set. Clyburn Reed’s son Walter Clyburn Reed has appeared in a Pete Buttigieg campaign ad, where Clyburn Reed describes his grandfather as his hero.

Read more here.

What exactly is Tom Steyer planning to do?

CHARLESTON, S.C. — As Democrats begin to lose patience with the size of their 2020 presidential primary field, one candidate could be poised to seize attention with an unexpected finish Saturday.

Tom Steyer, the California activist billionaire who has largely been a nonfactor in the primary campaign so far, is on track to finish in the top three in South Carolina's contest, according to recent polls, potentially depriving former Vice President Joe Biden of the strong finish he needs to reclaim momentum.

Many Democrats eyeing the general election are eager for underperforming candidates to get out of the way, but few have provoked more annoyance than Steyer, who has invested particularly heavily in South Carolina, with a focus on racial justice and climate issues.

"A lot of Democrats feel as though it's time for Steyer to get out," longtime Democratic operative Karen Finney said. "There's a real frustration that his money could be spent helping us win because it's pretty obvious to most people that there's just not a path for him. And Democrats are becoming increasingly anxious that it's time to start coalescing."

But despite being one of the Democratic Party's single biggest donors in recent elections, Steyer has a long history of going his own way. For instance, he spent millions pushing for President Donald Trump's impeachment over the vocal objections of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In an interview with NBC News on Wednesday, Steyer said he doesn't much care what "the Democratic establishment" thinks about his strategy and called the idea that he's a spoiler for Biden "a crazy statement."

Read more here.

The scene in North Charleston

NBC News

Image: South Carolina primary
Voters check-in with poll workers at a polling station located at Mary Ford Elementary School during the primary election in North Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 29, 2020.Joshua Lott / AFP - Getty Images


Buttigieg issues with black voters magnified in South Carolina

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Georgette Mayo, who is African American, doesn't like Pete Buttigieg.

"I don't trust him," said Mayo, an archivist at the College of Charleston, who has narrowed her choices in Saturday's Democratic primary to Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren.

"In regards to him as mayor in South Bend, and the friction that there was with the police chief — he just hasn't made up for that," she said. "To me, he's just not even a consideration."

Mayo is among the many black voters in South Carolina who — citing Buttigieg's mixed record on race when he was a mayor in Indiana — say they just can't fathom backing him.

Buttigieg's struggles to win over African American voters have long been in the spotlight.

He's defended policy decisions he made as mayor that were not well received by the city's black community, and he’s faced blowback in confronting race relations and policing there.

Buttigieg's challenge in tackling race issues, however, are especially pertinent in South Carolina, where black voters make up a majority of the Democratic electorate and where every winner of the state's Democratic primary since 1992 (except for John Edwards in 2004) has gone on to win the party's nomination.

Read more here.

On the South Carolina airwaves: Negative ads and appeals to black voters

WASHINGTON — With just one day to go until South Carolina's pivotal Democratic presidential primary, the Palmetto State's ad wars are heating up.

Philanthropist and billionaire Tom Steyer has blanketed the state to the tune of $20 million in television and radio ads in South Carolina this cycle, according to Advertising Analytics. That's more than the rest of the Democratic field combined. 

Far behind him, but ahead of the rest of the pack, is former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has spent $2.4 million. (While former Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't on the ballot in South Carolina, he's running $2 million in ads in adjacent states that bleed onto the airwaves in South Carolina.)

Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign has spent $700,000; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has spent $690,000; Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has spent $580,000; Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has spent $500,000; and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has spent $470,000. 

And Super PACs supporting Klobuchar, Warren and Biden have spent $980,000, $590,000 and $110,000 respectively. 

Read more here.

Everything you need to know about South Carolina's primary

The 2020 primary race is heading to South Carolina for the nation's First in the South nominating contest.

The South Carolina primary tests candidates' strength with black voters, who made up nearly two-thirds of the Democratic primary electorate in 2016.

The state also boasts a nearly-perfect track record; since Democrats in the state first used a primary in 1992, every winner except for one has gone on to win the Democratic nomination. The exception: Neighboring-state favorite John Edwards, who won South Carolina but ultimately lost the nod to John Kerry.

Here’s everything you need to know about the South Carolina primary.

5 things to watch in the South Carolina primary: A moment of truth for Joe Biden

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Democratic primary here on Saturday will determine whether Joe Biden’s campaign is alive and kicking, or whether another candidate can lay claim to being the strongest challenger to national front-runner Bernie Sanders.

South Carolina is the first majority-black primary electorate on the calendar — about 60 percent in 2016 — and the winner in four out of the last five contests since 1992 has gone on to capture the party’s nomination (the exception, John Edwards of neighboring North Carolina in 2004, ended up as the vice presidential pick.)

The primary comes three days before the immensely important "Super Tuesday" contests, and Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar are all jockeying for position.

Here are five things to watch for when polls close at 7 p.m. EST.