Voting Gets Underway For South Carolina 2020 Presidential Primary

February 29, 2020 Updated: February 29, 2020

Polls are opening across South Carolina as Democrats make their selections in the state’s presidential primary.

Voting is open on Saturday until 7 p.m. ET throughout the state. There are a dozen candidates on the ballot, although the slate of names was set before some dropped out of the race.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has expressed confidence of victory in South Carolina, a state where he has long relationships and has led recent surveys. The state could be Biden’s first primary win in four tries at the White House.

South Carolina Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives with his daughter Ashley for a campaign event in Spartanburg, S.C., on Feb. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

On the eve of the South Carolina presidential primary, Joe Biden is telling voters that America has a chance to “change the economy in a big way, without being socialist” and “without having a revolution.”

Friday’s remarks were a broadside at Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist with sweeping proposals on health care and tuition-free college.

Biden is looking to the Saturday primary for his first victory of Democrats’ 2020 nominating fight. Sanders led voting in the first contests, animating the party’s left flank while a gaggle of rivals split the rest of the vote.

The former vice president has stepped up his warnings that nominating Sanders would be too risky for the party. Biden argues that Sanders’ policies are impractical and impossible to get through Congress.

There is no party registration in South Carolina, meaning Republicans—who have no primary here—are free to vote in the Democratic contest.

Billionaire Tom Steyer has made his election-eve appeal to South Carolina voters, pledging that his commitment to them will go beyond the primary election.

The Democrat told attendees at a rally Friday night in downtown Columbia that he and his wife had “fallen in love” with the state during their months of campaigning there ahead of Saturday’s presidential primary.

In the balloting, Steyer said he felt the “people of South Carolina are up for a righteous fight.”

Steyer has spent months honing in on the black voters who make up most of South Carolina’s Democratic electorate, accruing top endorsements from members of the Legislative Black Caucus and frequently voicing support for reparations. He closed out his rally at Allen University, a historically black institution, by referencing an anthem of the civil rights movement, saying, “We shall, in fact, overcome.”

Steyer’s rally was primarily a music showcase, featuring performances by rapper Juvenile, gospel singer Yolanda Adams, and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

‘I Think Bernie’s Easier to Beat:’ Trump

President Donald Trump has asked the crowd at his rally in South Carolina whether Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden would make a better Democratic opponent for him.

South Carolina Rally Trump
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in North Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Trump held the rally in North Charleston on Friday, a day before the state’s Democratic presidential primary. Sanders is the front-runner in the race but is considered a risky choice by some because he identifies as a democratic socialist. Biden is a moderate who won accolades as President Barack Obama’s vice president, but he doesn’t garner the same level of excitement as Sanders does.

The rally crowd relished Trump’s asking them to participate in the poll. More in the crowd shouted “Bernie!” and booed the mention of Biden than the other way around.

Trump agreed, saying, “I think Bernie’s easier to beat.”

Some state GOP leaders have urged Republican voters to participate in Saturday’s Democratic primary and vote for Sanders.

Allen Zhong and the Associated Press contributed to the report.