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South Carolina Democrats roundly endorse Biden

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(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden on Saturday celebrated a dominant primary victory in South Carolina, the state that gave his campaign life four years ago.

Democrats went to the polls and with no surprise chose the 46th president ahead of Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and author Marianne Williamson.

“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. “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.”

The race was called less than 30 minutes after polls closed. With 100% of counties reporting, Biden collected 96% of the more than 131,000 votes cast in unofficial totals. South Carolina awards 55 delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on Aug. 19-22.

Though New Hampshire had a primary last month, the Democratic ballot did not include the president. Still, Biden got more votes via write-in than all other options. South Carolina was considered by the national party as its first in the nation.

Biden’s first significant campaign event was near Valley Forge, Pa., last month. In appearances then and since, the 81-year-old is stumping on his record with the economy and inflation; wages; what he calls “climate accomplishments”; and women’s reproductive rights. His administration this year has also had significant distribution of taxpayer dollars in several projects out of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.

The president’s notable campaign events recently were in South Carolina last weekend and another with the United Auto Workers in Warren, Michigan, on Thursday. That’s a battleground state Biden won in 2020 by less than 155,000 votes of more than 5.4 million cast; Trump took it in 2016 by less than 11,000 of nearly 4.8 million cast. Michigan carries 15 electoral college votes – only nine states have more – and is the next (Feb. 27) with primaries of both parties on the same day.

South Carolina, which hasn’t voted in the general election for a presidential Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1976, has just nine electoral college votes. But it’s a state important to Biden, who wanted it lifted on the primary schedule because of the socio-economic mix of voters. Black voters here figured heavily in his 2020 campaign resuscitation, though polling shows he had 86% approval from them nationally in July 2021 and only 50% this past December.

The president is asking supporters to believe him on some campaign points when facts do not agree.

Economic concerns, in particular inflation, are on the ballot and in the president’s campaign speeches. This week he touted 353,000 new jobs created in January and delivered the statement, “Wealth, wages, and employment are higher now than before the pandemic and I won’t stop fighting to keep our progress going.”

Also posted to his Facebook page on Tuesday, “Inflation is coming down. It’s now lower in America than any other major economy in the world. And the costs of essential items including gas are coming down too.”

In the latest available rates, inflation rose from 3.1% in November to 3.4% in December. It was 1.4% in January 2021 and 9.1% in June 2022. January’s percentage becomes available Feb. 13.

Internationally among the G20, inflation is lower in China (minus-0.3%), Italy (0.76%), Saudi Arabia (1.5%), Switzerland (1.7%), Indonesia (2.57%), Japan (2.6%), the Euro Area (2.8%), South Korea (2.8%), Germany (2.9%), France (3.1%), Netherlands (3.2%) and is the same in Canada (3.4%). By measure of gross domestic product, the respective top four are America, China, Japan and Germany; six of the top 10 in GDP are lower than the U.S.

Gas prices, according to AAA, are averaging $3.15 a gallon for unleaded. That’s up about 5 cents from a week ago, and 6 cents from a month ago. One year ago, it was $3.49.

Added to those are data points from the Bureau of Economic Analysis in its Producer Consumption Expenditure index. It’s up 2.9% in the last year and shows prices overall have risen 17% since Biden took office.

Though he’s not campaigning on it now, this year’s ballot includes border security. An estimated 11 million people are living in or have entered the country illegally since Biden took office. Consensus national polling, including The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll in January, indicates Republicans care more than Democrats though levels in each party are rising.

Biden has told voters he’ll shut down the border if Congress allows, even as his press secretary for months said the border was not open. Worth noting is that Biden on his first day issued an executive order to “declare an immediate termination of the national emergency declaration that was used as a pretext to justify some of the funding diversions for the wall.”

The proclamation directed an immediate pause in the border wall construction projects.

The Republican primary in South Carolina is Feb. 24. Next up is Nevada, with Democrats’ primary on Tuesday and Republicans’ caucus on Thursday.