Joe Biden captured 61 percent of the African-American vote in South Carolina on Saturday, allowing him to beat Bernie Sanders easily statewide. Biden now has a chance to do well on Super Tuesday and could soon consolidate the anti-Sanders vote. But make no mistake, Bernie Sanders remains the clear front-runner.
The latest forecast by the political forecaster FiveThirtyEight finds that there’s now a 59 percent chance of a contested Democratic convention. Bernie Sanders has a 28 percent chance to win the majority of delegates on the first ballot, while Joe Biden has a 13 percent chance. No one else still running has anything above a 1 percent chance.
The reason Sanders still has the inside track is that Biden has yet to score a convincing win in a state where he doesn’t have the overwhelming advantage. South Carolina is Biden’s neighborhood, home to African-American voters who were fond of his loyal service as Barack Obama’s vice president and to older moderate whites. It’s also the home base of House majority whip Jim Clyburn, who threw his political machine behind Biden in the crucial days right before the primary. Indeed, Biden was so strong in South Carolina that, as of now, it is the only state primary he has won in any of the presidential races he’s run since 1988.
The 14 states that will vote on Super Tuesday will answer the question about whether Biden can create the kind of coalition that Hillary Clinton assembled to hold back Sanders’s insurgent candidacy in 2016. So far, Biden has had little success attracting Hispanics, feminists, or highly educated white voters.