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Biden Dances to Victory in South Carolina’s Big Bash

Credit: MPR News

In what felt like a grand reunion rather than a nail-biting contest, President Joe Biden glided to a resounding victory in South Carolina’s presidential primary, turning the event into what could best be described as a victory lap in slow motion. With the kind of ease you’d expect from someone popping in to say “Hi” at a party where they’re the guest of honor, Biden left his competitors, Rep. Dean Phillips and self-help guru Marianne Williamson, in the rearview mirror, marveling at the dust kicked up in a state that seems to have a soft spot for him since his 2020 campaign triumph.

South Carolina’s vote wasn’t just another tick in the election cycle; it was a melodious note in Biden’s symphony towards the general election, poised to be a blockbuster show with all the trimmings of drama and suspense. The Republican corner, buzzing with anticipation for their own showdown on February 24, has its eyes on former President Donald Trump, who’s leading the charge with the confidence of a heavyweight champion.

Biden, meanwhile, was banking on South Carolina to sprinkle some magic on his campaign, especially aiming to charm Black voters and rally Democratic enthusiasm. And, oh, did the charm work! With Biden scooping up votes like a kid in a candy store, nabbing roughly 95 percent of the vote, it’s safe to say South Carolina was smitten. Though turnout was a cozy gathering compared to the bustling crowd four years ago, the vibe was clear: “We’re with Joe.”

Bakari Sellers, once a state rep and now possibly a political prophet, summed it up nicely: “Black voters aren’t just watching this election; they’re setting the pace.” And pace they set, with Biden’s victory call to Rep. Jim Clyburn turning into a spontaneous speakerphone celebration that had everyone straining their ears to catch the words of gratitude floating through the air.

Even though it was pretty much agreed that Biden would be the prom king of this dance, his campaign didn’t take chances, pouring love (and cash) into South Carolina like it was the last dance at prom. Vice President Kamala Harris became a familiar face, dropping by four times in five weeks, while the campaign chest was lighter by more than $400,000, all in the name of boosting the party spirit.

As the day unfolded, the atmosphere was less ‘edge-of-your-seat’ and more ‘backyard barbecue with friends.’ Biden, perhaps feeling the warmth from afar, was chilling in Southern California, while Phillips was en route from New York to D.C., likely pondering the efficiency of spending $585 on digital ads.

The Democrats’ calendar shuffle, making South Carolina the belle of the ball for the first time, was a bold move that paid off, centering Black voters in the spotlight of the primary process. And while New Hampshire tried to steal some thunder with an unsanctioned primary, South Carolina’s party was the place to be, with roughly 150 Democrats gathering at the state fairgrounds for what was essentially a feel-good rally, complete with cheers, speeches, and a laid-back vibe that had everyone reaching for another Corona or diving into the potluck spread of barbecue wings and macaroni salad.

As the night wrapped up earlier than some Netflix binges, the dwindling crowd was a sign of a party well-enjoyed, with the suspense as thin as the attendance by the end. But the message was clear: Joe Biden’s campaign has the groove, and South Carolina was just the start of the dance.