With a lid on the first two nominating contests of the 2024 presidential election, this year’s White House hopefuls are turning their attention to South Carolina.
For President Joe Biden and the Democrats, next month’s South Carolina primary will mark the first 2024 election results that will officially count with the Democratic National Committee and lead to delegates being awarded at the party’s August nominating convention.
So do the two Republican challengers, former President Donald Trump, who is leading with an average 62% of the vote, per aggregator FiveThirtyEight, and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who served for two terms as the governor of the Palmetto State and is hoping to slow the GOP frontrunner's momentum.
Biden has a lot riding on the state. In 2020, South Carolina was considered to have turned the tide in a positive direction for Biden after disappointing results in the traditional first-in-the-nation contests of Iowa and New Hampshire. The president delivered his second campaign speech of the election year at a Charleston, South Carolina, church that was also the site of a racially motivated mass shooting in 2015.
Last year, the DNC shook up its primary lineup to move the Palmetto State to the number one spot.
Yet, despite having still not competed in its first official primary contest (Biden was not on the ballot in New Hampshire after a dispute with the DNC over changing the primary calendar, but won with a write-in campaign), Biden’s reelection campaign already has its eyes squarely on November's general election.
“The results out of New Hampshire confirm that Donald Trump has all been locked up the GOP nomination and the election-denying anti-freedom MAGA movement has completed its takeover of the Republican Party,” Biden-Harris 2024 campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez argued to reporters on a call on Wednesday.
“It'll be a choice between two visions for this country that couldn't be more different,” Chávez Rodríguez continued, adding “it's with that clear contrast on full display that we enter the general election phase of this campaign.”
The call came one day after Trump defeated Haley in the Granite State primary, and Biden trounced his longshot Democratic challengers.
Haley pledged to stay in the race following the New Hampshire results. She launched a $4 million ad campaign in South Carolina on Wednesday and plans to attend several campaign rallies in the state over the weekend.
One of Biden’s Democratic challengers Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn, also says he's not going anywhere. Meanwhile, Biden notched a key endorsement on Wednesday from the United Auto Workers union.
The incumbent president’s campaign made clear it is focusing its energy on Trump.
“We're going to spend every day until Nov. 5, reminding voters of the clear choice they will face next November,” Quentin Fulks, Biden's principal deputy campaign manager, said on Wednesday’s call. “It'll be a choice between a candidate who wakes up every single day fighting to make life better for working people and is running to save our democracy and a candidate who spends every day thinking about himself, retribution and revenge.”
The South Carolina Republican Primary takes place on February 24. Democrats in the state will vote for their party nominee on February 3.