South Carolina: The make-or-break primary

At the CNN Democratic town hall in Charleston, South Carolina, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said that she is ready for a convention floor battle this summer if none of the Democratic candidates reach a delegate majority during the primaries.

Posted: Feb 27, 2020 4:51 PM
Updated: Feb 27, 2020 4:51 PM

Saturday will be a big day in South Carolina. With so many candidates in the Democratic competition, most of whom have sizable blocks of support, each state contest so far has turned into a hugely consequential day of voting. And the South Carolina primary will be no different.

For former Vice President Joe Biden, South Carolina means everything. The candidate whom many have called the "most electable" in the bunch struggled in Iowa, New Hampshire, and -- to a lesser extent -- in Nevada. Not only did he lose, but he lost badly in Iowa and New Hampshire, and placed a distant second in Nevada.

Meanwhile, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has propelled himself to the top of the heap, and with the rest of the candidates dividing up the vote, the Democratic Socialist from Vermont now finds himself in a position to win the nomination.

If Biden does not win in South Carolina, the state his campaign thinks will help him rebound, it could easily be the end of the race for him. South Carolina has been his so-called "firewall," and now that firewall has to hold. If the day ends with Sanders on top, or even a very close second, there will be considerable pressure on Biden to step down. The stakes are particularly high since the former vice president has not spent nearly as much time in other Super Tuesday states

A poor showing in South Carolina would dampen Biden's organizational enthusiasm and fundraising. With former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ramping up his television ad buys, and with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg showing no signs of packing up, the next few weeks could be rough if South Carolina doesn't live up to expectations for the Biden.

Fortunately for Biden, the last few days have been promising. He stood his ground on the fractious debate stage, displaying the kind of energy and righteous anger that have been lacking from many of his campaign performances. He had an extraordinarily moving moment during CNN's town hall, tearing up as he responded to a question from a pastor whose wife was killed in the 2015 Charleston church shooting. And South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, an influential voice in the state, offered Biden his formal endorsement.

If Biden can turn all of these good moments, as well as months of organizational efforts, into a decisive victory in South Carolina, he will put himself in much stronger standing for the next few rounds of voting.

n other words, his candidacy will seem plausible again. With many Democrats still fretting over the electability of Sanders and seeking a safer bet -- desperate to avoid a second term of President Donald Trump at all costs -- Biden still brings the gravitas and experience that voters may feel would make him better at governing than Trump. He is the most-known quantity in this campaign, and if he can survive the nomination process, he could pose a tough challenge to the President in swing states and suburban constituencies that are on the fence.

The other candidates also face high stakes moment in South Carolina, though the contests on Super Tuesday will be more important for them.

If Sanders can pull out a victory or come in a close second on Saturday, he will be in an excellent position to lock in the frontrunner position by the end of Super Tuesday. Such an outcome would give him the momentum to secure a huge number of delegates in California and Texas, making the others feel very far away from winning the nomination.

For Sanders, coming in a strong second would be almost as good as winning. It would show once again how formidable his campaign is, while encouraging Biden to stay in the race and thus continuing to split the non-Sanders delegate count.

A strong performance by Warren, who has promised to stay in this race until the convention, provided no candidate has received a delegate majority, could bolster her standing as a real progressive alternative to Sanders. She could be the champion of progressive causes in a way that generates less anxiety among Democratic leaders.

Obviously, a solid turnout for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who continues to impress on the debate stage but still isn't pulling in large number of delegates, would keep her alive for Super Tuesday. She represents the most interesting, moderate alternative to Bloomberg and doesn't carry as much baggage of the former mayor.

Tom Steyer, who doesn't really have much of a chance of amassing many delegates, could show his chops if he wins enough votes from younger African American voters to undercut Biden's total. That could make him a key player in the weeks ahead.

Buttigieg also has a great deal to prove. His goal should be to do better than expected in South Carolina among African American voters, demonstrating that he does have the capacity to secure the support of core Democratic constituencies, despite what the early polls have shown. This would expand the number of political leaders and voters who see him as a candidate with the potential to unite and mobilize the Democratic coalition.

But, without a doubt, the most important story on Saturday will be Biden. This primary is truly a make-or-break moment for him. If he wins big, Biden brings his campaign back to life and improves his odds to make it until the convention. If he doesn't, it could be the first step in narrowing the number of Democrats who are vying to win this nomination.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 498560

Reported Deaths: 9939
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34150535
DeSoto31916399
Hinds31878624
Jackson24352379
Rankin21928388
Lee15450235
Madison14547279
Jones13789241
Forrest13428250
Lauderdale11944315
Lowndes10966185
Lamar10491135
Pearl River9454237
Lafayette8462138
Hancock7703126
Washington7371157
Oktibbeha7118130
Monroe6740174
Warren6656176
Pontotoc6620102
Neshoba6613206
Panola6466131
Marshall6398132
Bolivar6268146
Union596794
Pike5794152
Alcorn5646101
Lincoln5421134
George494979
Scott471198
Tippah466081
Prentiss464881
Leflore4631144
Itawamba4605105
Adams4577119
Tate4553109
Copiah445692
Simpson4423116
Yazoo440386
Wayne438572
Covington427894
Marion4222107
Sunflower4217104
Coahoma4127104
Leake407687
Newton381079
Grenada3700108
Stone358764
Tishomingo358091
Attala330589
Jasper328565
Winston313491
Clay306775
Chickasaw297867
Clarke290694
Calhoun278145
Holmes267287
Smith262450
Yalobusha232847
Tallahatchie225851
Walthall217763
Greene216048
Lawrence211440
Perry204855
Amite204055
Webster201845
Noxubee185940
Montgomery179356
Jefferson Davis170942
Carroll168238
Tunica159039
Benton147538
Kemper141341
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131637
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106328
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 814363

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1141131910
Mobile722941323
Madison52048686
Shelby37315341
Baldwin37098540
Tuscaloosa34973599
Montgomery33996725
Lee23158240
Calhoun22168470
Morgan20675372
Etowah19770496
Marshall18258300
Houston17314405
St. Clair15924337
Cullman15333290
Limestone15239198
Elmore15095284
Lauderdale14163294
Talladega13728272
DeKalb12575259
Walker11096366
Blount10104174
Autauga9904146
Jackson9795180
Coffee9182189
Dale8866181
Colbert8794200
Tallapoosa7045195
Escambia6747127
Covington6688179
Chilton6595160
Russell626358
Franklin5936105
Chambers5562142
Marion4960126
Dallas4897199
Clarke473482
Pike4721105
Geneva4564126
Winston4478101
Lawrence4269117
Bibb421786
Barbour356075
Marengo334189
Monroe330662
Randolph327763
Butler324894
Pickens314082
Henry311265
Hale309487
Cherokee300557
Fayette291079
Washington251151
Cleburne247058
Crenshaw243775
Clay240867
Macon230762
Lamar218146
Conecuh185752
Coosa179038
Lowndes174161
Wilcox167838
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131138
Greene125844
Choctaw87027
Out of AL00
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Columbus
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We have had some nice and dry days for the last several days. We will change things just a bit over the next few days, as we will see some scattered showers and thunderstorms back into our weather forecast by later Wednesday and into Thursday.
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