President Joe Biden notched his first official primary victory Saturday in South Carolina, garnering 96% of the vote in a landslide victory over author Marianne Williamson and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minnesota), who only managed to secure about 2% of votes each.

Biden’s win was certainly not unexpected (the election was called just an hour after polls closed), but the campaign was determined to show that this primary was an important jumping-off point for the long road ahead. They sent Vice President Kamala Harris to South Carolina four times and spent more than $400,000 on ad buys in the state before voting day.

Biden and the D.N.C. re-arranged the primary schedule, making South Carolina the first primary of the election cycle, in an effort to center black voters, a major part of the Democratic constituency. While there was notably low turnout, only about 4% of voters showed up for early voting (131,870), and black voters made up roughly 76% of that number.

In a statement released by Biden shortly after the polls closed, he said, “This campaign is for everyone who has been knocked down, counted out, and left behind. That is still true today. With more than 14 million new jobs and a record 24 straight months – two years – of the unemployment rate under 4%, including a record low unemployment rate for Black Americans, we are leaving no one behind.”


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Biden continued by acknowledging how important the black vote is to himself and his party. “When I was elected President, I said the days of the backbone of the Democratic party being at the back of the line were over,” he said. “That was a promise made and a promise kept. Now you’re first in the nation.”

Despite the Biden campaign’s insistence on the importance of the South Carolina primary, the president was not in the state to celebrate his victory. He was instead at a fund-raiser in Southern California.

D.N.C. Chair Jaimie Harrison and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) were in attendance and took a call from the president on speaker phone at the victory party. Clyburn called for the D.N.C. to “not hold the state law in New Hampshire against our Democrats,” and to seat the state’s delegates despite their unsanctioned contest.

Biden’s decisive win has not seemed to deter his primary challengers. Phillips took to X (formerly Twitter) to declare his intentions to stay in the race. “Cracking four digits never felt so good. Congratulations Mr. President on a good old fashioned whooping. See you in Michigan.”

Williamson, who placed second in South Carolina, has already set her sights on Nevada.

Biden has hardly acknowledged his two Democratic challengers and seems to have his sights set squarely on the likely Republican nominee, former President Donald Trump.

He addressed him in part of his victory speech Saturday. “The stakes in this election could not be higher,” said Biden. “There are extreme and dangerous voices at work in this country – led by Donald Trump – who are determined to divide our nation and take us backward. We can not let that happen.”

The South Carolina Republican primary will take place on February 24.

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