COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina is once again handing President Biden a ballot box victory.
The Associated Press on Saturday projected that the president would win South Carolina’s 2024 Democratic presidential primary, with the news service making its call 23 minutes after the polls closed in the Palmetto State at 7 p.m. ET.
The quick projection came as no surprise, as Biden was expected to trounce his two long-shot Democratic primary challengers, Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and Marianne Williamson, the best-selling author and spiritual adviser who’s making her second straight White House run.
“In 2020, it was the voters of South Carolina who proved the pundits wrong, breathed new life into our campaign, and set us on the path to winning the Presidency,” Biden said in a statement soon after the race was called.
BIDEN AIMS TO SOLIDIFY SUPPORT AMONG BLACK VOTERS AT THE BALLOT BOX
“Now in 2024, the people of South Carolina have spoken again and I have no doubt that you have set us on the path to winning the Presidency again — and making Donald Trump a loser — again,” he added.
South Carolina, where Black voters play an out-sized role in state Democratic politics, for the first time led off the party’s official presidential nominating calendar.
And Biden deserved much of the credit, as he orchestrated an upending of the Democratic National Committee’s long-running nominating calendar to place the Palmetto State first.
“If you ever doubt that the power to change America is in your hands, remember this. You proved it. You’re the reason I am president. That’s right. You’re the reason Kamala Harris is a historic vice president,” Biden emphasized last weekend as he spoke at a major South Carolina Democratic Party gathering.
DNC CHAIR TELLS NIKKI HALEY SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATS ‘ARE NOT BAILING YOU OUT’
Four years ago, the then-former vice president was reeling, after a fourth place finish in the Iowa caucuses and a fifth place showing in the New Hampshire primary.
Biden rebounded with a distant second place finish to Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada’s caucuses, which was followed by a landslide victory in the South Carolina primary. Biden’s demolishing of the rest of the field of Democratic rivals — boosted in large part by the support of longtime Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina — rocketed Biden towards the party’s nomination and eventually the White House.
National Democrats for years knocked both Iowa and New Hampshire — which led both national parties’ nominating calendars for half a century — as unrepresentative of the party as a whole because the states have largely Caucasian populations with few major urban areas. Nevada and South Carolina, which in recent cycles voted third and fourth on the calendar, are much more diverse than either Iowa or New Hampshire.
While Republicans didn’t make major changes to their 2024 schedule, the DNC last year overwhelmingly approved a calendar proposed by Biden to move South Carolina to the lead position. The president and supporters of the new calendar argued that it would empower minority voters, upon whom Democrats have long relied but have at times taken for granted.
HALEY SAYS ‘CLOSING THE GAP’ WITH TRUMP HER GOAL IN SOUTH CAROLINA GOP PRIMARY
Plenty of political analysts also saw the move as a thank you from Biden to Clyburn and South Carolina for the role they played in his 2020 election.
Spotlighting the significance of going first in the calendar, South Carolina Democratic Party chair Christale Spain told Fox News “it’s a huge deal.”
While Iowa eventually complied with the DNC, New Hampshire adhered to a half-century-old state law that mandates their presidential primary goes first.
New Hampshire held its primary for both parties on Jan. 23, and the Democratic contest was unsanctioned by the DNC, with no delegates at stake.
Biden didn’t file to place his name on the New Hampshire primary ballot and didn’t campaign in the state. But he still won over 60% of the vote in the contest, thanks to a well-funded write-in effort by top Granite State Democrats.
As ballots continued to be tablulated Saturday evening in South Carolina, Biden enjoyed a massive lead over his challengers, winning over 95% of the vote.
Asked by Fox News’ James Levinson if it was time for Phillips and Williamson to suspend their campaigns, DNC chair Jaime Harrison said “campaigns have to make their own decisions. I don’t tell anybody when they should drop out.”
But stating the obvious, he added “it looks like Joe Biden’s going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party.”
Biden was on the ballot in the Palmetto State, and South Carolina Democratic Party chair Christale Spain, pointing to the president’s dominance in a state where he’s had long ties, told Fox News on Friday that “this primary is contested, but it isn’t competitive.”
Vice President Harris, on the eve of the primary, highlighted the significance of the state’s new leadoff position.
“South Carolina, you are the first primary in the nation and President Biden and I are counting on you,” Harris said at a campaign event at South Carolina State University.
“Are you ready to make your voices heard?” the vice president asked the crowd gathered Friday at the historically Black university.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Biden called into a South Carolina Democratic Party celebration after the race was called.
“What happened,” he joked, before asking “what kind of turnout did you have.”
“Thanks everybody. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. And you’re not rid of me. I’m coming back,” he said to cheers.
The president enjoys the support of the DNC as he seeks a second term in the White House, and Harrison, back in his home state, told Fox News Digital on Saturday morning in Columbia, South Carolina that part of Biden’s mission in the primary was to shore up support from Black voters, a key Democratic Party constituency that boosted him four years ago.
“This president wanted to send a signal to black folks, not only here in South Carolina, but across the nation, that we see you, we hear you and you matter. That is why it’s important for the president and the vice president and the first lady and the second gentleman to come into a state and to show up even when they know that they’re going to win. And that they’re going to win decisively,” Harrison said.
Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.