MICHEL MARTIN (HOST): A must-win for Joe Biden. From NPR News, this is live Special Coverage of the South Carolina primary. I'm Michel Martin broadcasting from South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia.
ASMA KHALID (BYLINE): And I'm Sarah McCammon in Washington. The polls have closed now in the state. And we'll soon find out if former Vice President Joe Biden is going to get the big win he's been hoping for.
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SCOTT DETROW (BYLINE): I intend to win South Carolina. And I will win the African American vote here in South Carolina.
MARTIN: And will Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders keep the momentum he has built so far?
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JUANA SUMMERS (BYLINE): The only way we beat Trump is when we have the largest voter turnout in the history of this country.
KHALID: We have reporters covering all the candidates' campaigns tonight and analysis here in the studio.
MARTIN: This is live Special Coverage of the South Carolina primary from NPR News.
KHALID: And we're going to go now to NPR's senior political editor correspondent, Domenico Montanaro, who's in the studio with us. Good evening, Domenico.
MICHEL MARTIN (BYLINE): Hey, Sarah.
KHALID: So we've been - you've been looking at exit polls from South Carolina, where, as we heard, the polls have just closed. What are you seeing so far?
MARTIN: Well, what we see is that people really like Joe Biden - 20 points higher favorability for Joe Biden than any of his closest rivals coming into tonight, Tom Steyer and Bernie Sanders.
KHALID: And, Domenico, I got to stop you because we do have a call to make. Former Vice President Joe Biden has won the South Carolina Democratic primary. This is breaking news from the Associated Press. Again, former Vice President Joe Biden has won the South Carolina primary.
MARTIN: Well, there you go. I mean, the fact that 75% of people said they had a - or people said they had a 75% favorable impression of Joe Biden - and then Tom Steyer and Bernie Sanders were in the 50s - that was a pretty good indicator that Biden was going to have a pretty good night. A couple other things to note here - the electorate was, as expected, majority African American. And that should help Biden, as well. Remember, Biden got the endorsement this week of Jim Clyburn, who's the congressman - highest-ranking African American in Congress.
And about half of voters said his endorsement was an important factor in their vote. And half - I'm sorry, a quarter. Half of those said that it was the most important vote - the most important factor in their vote was Clyburn's endorsement. So if, you know, having Biden having won tonight - that 24 hours between his strong debate performance Tuesday night and then into Wednesday when Clyburn endorsed him may have been the 24 hours that helped save his campaign.
KHALID: And quickly, what are the exit polls telling us about who might be coming up behind him again?
MARTIN: Well, that's tough to say. And we'll wind up seeing what the actual vote tells us in some of the other - as some of that vote actually comes in.
KHALID: And we're going to talk more about former Vice President Joe Biden, who, again - the projection is he has won the South Carolina Democratic primary. Asma Khalid has been following his campaign. And she's joining us now from, I believe, Columbia. Hi, Asma.
CELINDA LAKE (DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER): Hey there. How are you?
KHALID: Good. How are you?
LAKE: I'm good. It's been a long week. We've been trailing Joe Biden all over the state this week because, you know, this was, in many ways, the most important week in Biden's political career. He needed a decisive win here. And it looks like, at least for now, he has a win. We just don't know how decisive - how resounding of a victory it was.
KHALID: And you are there right with the Biden campaign? What's...
LAKE: I am. Yeah. He's not out yet. But I will say, as soon as that call was projected on the massive TV screen here at the party, the crowd erupted into cheers. I mean, his supporters have been waiting for a victory. And I talked to so many people who really liked Joe Biden who felt frustrated because they felt like the demographics in Iowa and New Hampshire just didn't really represent the full demographics of this country. They felt like what happens here in South Carolina would not necessarily be determined based on what happened in some of those earlier voting states.
KHALID: What's the mood been like with the former vice president and his campaign as you've been trailing him during this really important week?
LAKE: Well, I will say, Sarah, he seems a lot more comfortable campaigning here in South Carolina than he ever was when I saw him, specifically in Iowa and New Hampshire. At times there in New Hampshire, he looked a little stiff on the stump. He would have these really long, kind of meandering speeches. He still has sometimes given those somewhat meandering speeches here in South Carolina, but they're better received by the crowd. They are very enthusiastic about him. He is very enthusiastic about them. He's in his element. And he's extraordinarily comfortable here.
And many people told me that, you know, there was this affectionate feeling they felt towards him, in part because they felt he had been a very loyal No. 2 to the nation's first African American president. And I know that's a comment that kind of pundits, comedians may feel has become this punchline. But it is - it should not be underestimated how important that loyalty is for many voters here in South Carolina.
KHALID: And, Asma, Biden got a really important endorsement this week from House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, who is a political legend in South Carolina - extremely influential Democrat. How important do you think that was for this result tonight?
LAKE: Well, as Domenico suggested, based on what we've seen in terms of the exit polls, it seems that that endorsement was really critical for Biden. It came on the heels of a debate performance where some folks, you know, who saw that debate thought he did fairly well. I would say that that endorsement to me was just this big stamp of approval, I mean, in some ways. It came just a couple of days before the actual primary vote.
Jim Clyburn himself in making that endorsement said that he felt he needed to make his vote public. He had known for a long time which way he was going to vote. But he felt that he needed to do that. He felt that some of his constituents were asking and seeking his guidance. And based on what we see in the exit polls, it seems that it had a pretty dramatic effect in how people vote.
KHALID: And what does this projected win for Biden in South Carolina tonight - what might that mean, Asma, for his prospects on Tuesday, which, as we know, is Super Tuesday, a really important day?
LAKE: Yeah. Sure. You know, Sarah, I think it's hard for me to translate tonight so early on what this victory might mean. He needed a win here in order to even just move forward strongly into Super Tuesday. He was, earlier today, campaigning in Raleigh, N.C. I was there with him. But one thing I will point out, Sarah, is that throughout this week, many of his opponents have been campaigning in Super Tuesday states because there's not a lot of time between South Carolina today and Tuesday. And this race quickly becomes nationalized.
Biden, on the other hand, had spent all week exclusively campaigning in South Carolina, really a sign of how vital this state was for him. Today was the first time he left the state to campaign in one of those Super Tuesday states. They feel optimistic. I mean, they feel like a strong win here will bring in more fundraising dollars, and that will help propel them into Super Tuesday. I guess I'm a little leery of what that momentum might mean, in part because there are two candidates who have been spending a lot more money in those 14 states. That's Mike Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders.
KHALID: All right. Well, thank you, Asma Khalid, with the Biden campaign in Columbia, S.C. We're going to be talking much more about other candidates as the evening goes on. Thanks so much. And we're going to go now to Michel Martin, my colleague who is also in South Carolina. Hi, Michel.
MARTIN: Hi, Sarah. And yep, greetings from Columbia, S.C. I'm going now to Chryl Laird. She has been studying the black vote closely. We've all been talking about how critical the black vote is in South Carolina and the Democratic primary and certainly to the fortunes of Joe Biden. She's an assistant professor of government and legal studies at Bowdoin College. Professor Laird, thank you so much for joining us.
WHIT AYRES (REPUBLICAN POLLSTER, NORTH STAR OPINION RESEARCH): Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: Top line impressions of what we're hearing here? Of course, we don't have sort of a breakdown of some of the things that I think a lot of us would be interested in, like, what the age - you know, what's the age breakdown of the people who are supporting Biden, when they made their decision. We're still going to get some of that information as the evening goes on. What are your top-line impressions of what you're hearing so far?
AYRES: So so far, I think it's consistent with what I would be expecting - that Biden was going to come in strong in this primary contest. I thought that the endorsement from Clyburn earlier this week was going to be significant in helping him seal the deal with a lot of people who may have been on the fence about how they were going to vote. I think African Americans, in this case, are making their decision between what they think is going to happen in terms of the black interests that they want to have represented as well as picking a candidate who they think is going to have likelihood being able to beat the president.
And so going with a more moderate candidate like Biden as well as something that they know well, that they have a sense of their commitment to the community through their ties to, for instance, Barack Obama as well as Clyburn, really serves a significant part in how we're seeing this play out.
MARTIN: I think we're all interested now that this vote has been called so early and what the implications might be elsewhere as the campaign moves forward. Do you - I'm just curious about your take on the importance of Representative Clyburn's endorsement. I mean, about half of voters saying that it was an important factor, 24% saying the most important factor.
Do you think that's unique to him? I will just tell you that when we spoke to him earlier this week and I asked him about that, I said, you know, we're in a time when it seems that endorsements might not be as important as they used to be. And he chuckled, you know...
MARTIN: ...As - in his way, as he does. And he said, well - and then he proceeded to tell me a story about how he'd gone to services for a friend of his - funeral services. This was before he'd made public his endorsement. And an elderly lady there was - you know, gestured to him to come down and bend down and speak to her and said, I need to know who you're voting for; you can whisper it in my ear if you're not ready to go public with this. And he says that he shared his thoughts with her, you know, at that time.
So do you think it's unique to him and the role he plays in people's lives here? Or do you think that, more broadly, these endorsements are going to matter to the African American vote going forward?
AYRES: I think it sends a signal to both, actually. I think particularly in South Carolina, obviously, because it is tied directly to that community is going to be key for them - right? - because he has a long history within that space. People know him very well. They know his long tenure within politics and what he's done for the community while he's been in office in Congress but additionally - right? - as being one of the most powerful black leaders that we have right now in Congress and in a (ph) federal position.
He is going to serve as a signal for a lot of African Americans who may be on the fence, who are maybe questioning, potentially, the viability of Biden in the electoral contest and that he is signaling that the community, at least in some of those - as an elite (ph), that there are those who are standing behind him fairly strongly - right? - and that we - especially in the Southern part of the United States, I think he's going to have a significant influence, where we're going to see a lot of other black voters participating in the primary.
So in just thinking about the contests coming up on Super Tuesday, we have Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas. And all of those have black populations who, in previous elections, particularly 2016, 20% to 30% - and even in Alabama, 50% - of people who participated in the primary were African American. And so I think he will be an important factor in how they will then think about who they will be supporting then. But we also have another entrant coming in - right? - with Bloomberg entering the race on Super Tuesday.
MARTIN: All right. We need to leave it there for now that Chryl Laird She is an assistant professor of government and legal studies at Bowdoin College. She's the author of "Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political Behavior." She's the co-author of that with Ismail White. Professor Laird, thank you so much for talking to us.
AYRES: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: I'm going to turn now to my colleague Ron Elving - he's NPR's senior Washington editor. He's here with me in our studios in Columbia, S.C. - and also Scott Huffmon, who's a political science professor and polling director at Winthrop University. Scott Huffmon, I want to turn to you first with the question I asked professor Laird. Do you think that the significance of Jim Clyburn's endorsement - first of all, are you surprised that 50% of the people polled in the exit poll said that his endorsement was that important to their decision-making? And do you think it has resonance going forward?
RON ELVING (BYLINE): ...And I do think this was kind of a unique blend of things all happening at once, mainly because there were so many people undecided going in that when you have a lot of folks who are kind of waiting till the end and seeing somebody like Jim Clyburn - so let's give a hypothetical.
Let's imagine Jim Clyburn had endorsed before Iowa. OK? Joe Biden would still get clobbered in Iowa, which is 97% white. Joe Biden would have still gotten clobbered in New Hampshire, which is 90% white. And he would have come to South Carolina beaten up, and that endorsement would have been seen as kind of irrelevant. But it parachuted in at the perfect time - the time when Joe Biden's path to the White House narrowed to the width of South Carolina, that was right when that endorsement came in.
And I'll tell you, there are two things to look for, I think, in addition to the people reporting that in exit polls. It's - can Joe Biden, who was before the endorsement only in single digits ahead, will he win by double digits? And turnout was really expected not to be that much higher than in 2016 and not even approach 2008. It was over 500,000, 2008. It was a 300-and-some-thousand. So if we see something unexpectedly high like in the mid-400-thousands, then I think that it not only pushed a lot of people to vote for Joe Biden but may have actually even pushed them to the polls.
MARTIN: Ron Elving?
JOE BIDEN (DEM PRES CAND): There's a timing issue here even beyond the long time that Clyburn waited to give this enormously influential endorsement. Even beyond the fact that he waited until the week of the South Carolina primary, which probably people would have predicted, he waited until midweek after the debate on Tuesday night. So there was one more chance for Joe Biden to, **
BIDEN: you know, face-plant and make it impossible. And he waited until Biden had had one of his better - if not his best - debate performance and then suddenly you've got the double whammy of that performance, a good story and the Clyburn endorsement, which was the sealer, the closer. And you notice almost immediately some of the other candidates left the state. They started campaigning primarily in Super Tuesday states, they came back for one more rally on Friday, and they didn't spend nearly as much time here during the week as Biden did. And one other, Tom Steyer, we need to talk about him.
MARTIN: We do need to talk about him. And I also want to hear, as the numbers come in, the generational issue here. As we reported earlier, Jim Clyburn's own grandson has been canvassing for Pete Buttigieg. We haven't really heard much from him, and they've had a very interesting exchange about that. I remember Congressman Clyburn saying to his grandson. He says, well, I never spanked you when you were younger, but I sure am going to spank you now.
BIDEN: And tonight - today, apparently, he did.
MARTIN: And today, apparently, he did. We have lots more conversation and lots more analysis from South Carolina and from around this state. I'm here now with Ron Elving, NPR's senior Washington editor, and Scott Huffmon, political science professor and polling director at Winthrop University. You're listening to live Special Coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary. from NPR News.
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KHALID: And I'm Sarah McCammon. We're going to go now to Juana Summers, political reporter, who is also in South Carolina, in Columbia.
BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT, SEN/DEM PRES CAND): Hey, Sarah.
KHALID: So you've been following the Tom Steyer campaign around. But I want to go first to Joe Biden's projected win. You've been traveling all around the state of South Carolina. Is this what people expected there?
SANDERS: I think it is what people expected, particularly as you all were discussing after he got that coveted endorsement from House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. I've spent most of my time with Tom Steyer, but I've also covered other candidates. And after that endorsement came out, most undecided voters I spoke to said it was something that weighed heavily for him, and that's something we've seen in the exit polls as well. Joe Biden is someone who's been familiar to many voters in this state. He's someone who's spent a lot of time here, forged deep relationships. So many voters felt like, even if they were supporting other candidates, this was perhaps a foregone conclusion in this state.
KHALID: So not unexpected, but what were they saying about Biden as you talked to voters?
SANDERS: I heard folks say they liked Biden, that he'd been here a lot. They loved that he had been President Obama, the first African American president's, No. 2. I also heard them say that they thought that he was a stable choice. They thought he was reliable and durable. And after four years of President Trump, that's something that voters in the state have come to value. And I - some people told me directly, they weren't sure they wanted to take a chance on some of the other candidates. They felt like Biden was a solid choice.
KHALID: And Juana, as I said, you've been with the campaign of Tom Steyer. That's where you are now, I believe, at a party that we can kind of hear in the background. He, of course, is a billionaire, an environmental activist. And along with Biden, Steyer has focused his campaign on South Carolina quite a bit. What has he been doing there, and how is he being received?
SANDERS: Yeah, that's right, Sarah. Well, one thing he's been doing here is having a heck of a lot of fun. You can hear the music behind us now. Last night, his final big rally in the state was actually a get-out-the-vote contest, where he brought in artists like the rapper Juvenile, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and DJ Jazzy Jeff to a historically black college and university. That's really important because he has aggressively courted the black vote here. He has spent millions of dollars - more than 17 million on advertising and is talking about issues like racial justice, environmental justice and really making sure that black voters, who make up a sizable share of the electorate here - the first state to do so - have their say. And he's been spending most of his time with them.
KHALID: And Juana Summers, I know you were at a news conference today with the South Carolina Democratic Party. One topic was Republicans crossing over and voting for Democrats, something I know some were encouraging each other to do. What's that about?
SANDERS: Absolutely. So President Trump was in the state this week, and he essentially polled people in the crowd of who Republicans should - could support in this open primary state. So you don't have to be registered with a particular party here in order to go support them. And we heard from the leaders of the South Carolina Democratic Party today. They do not believe there is any mass evidence of what some are calling Operation Chaos - Republicans crossing over, as they can legally do, to meddle in the state's primary. They said that the South Carolina Republican Party, these are their partners. They have been working on - they have been sharing information with one another. They've looked at the absentee ballots that have come in, and they see no evidence of that.
KHALID: OK. Well, thank you, Juana. We'll be talking to you throughout the evening. That's Juana Summers, political reporter, in Columbia, S.C. This is live Special Coverage of the South Carolina Democratic Party from NPR News. I'm Sarah McCammon. Thanks for listening.
We will be right back with more coverage from South Carolina and across the country, looking ahead to Super Tuesday and the results of tonight's primary in South Carolina. This is NPR.
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MARTIN: It's official. Joe Biden will win the South Carolina Democratic primary - that according to a projection by The Associated Press. This is live Special Coverage of the South Carolina primary from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin in Columbia, S.C.
KHALID: And I'm Sarah McCammon in Washington. The polls closed just a few minutes ago in the state of South Carolina, and here was the reaction from the Biden rally there where supporters are gathered.
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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Projecting at 7 p.m. Eastern Time, Joe Biden...
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: ...In South Carolina.
KHALID: We're going to leave South Carolina just for a little bit - we will be back - and talk to a couple of our reporters who are scattered around the country because, of course, we are looking ahead as well to Tuesday - very important day in this primary process.
Danielle Kurtzleben is a political reporter in Houston, Texas, following the Elizabeth Warren campaign. Hi, Danielle.
DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN (BYLINE): Hello.
KHALID: And Brian Naylor is following the campaign of Pete Buttigieg, former South Bend, Ind., mayor. And Brian, you're in Raleigh, N.C.
BRIAN NAYLOR (BYLINE): That's right, here at Broughton High School, home of the Capitals.
KHALID: Well, good evening to both of you.
NAYLOR: Buttigieg is holding a (inaudible)...
KHALID: Sorry. Go ahead.
NAYLOR: I was just going to say hi. Good to be here.
KHALID: It's good to have you. So of course as we said, Joe Biden is projected to win South Carolina, which is what the polls were expecting there. But we're going to talk about a couple of other candidates. Danielle and Brian, both of your candidates have skipped ahead, leaving South Carolina. They've gone elsewhere. I want to start with you, Danielle. What does that tell you about the strategy there for Elizabeth Warren - for Senator Warren?
KURTZLEBEN: I mean, it tells you that she's wasting no time. I'm talking to you, like you said, from Houston, Texas. You might be able to hear it's kind of loud. She is having an event here at an outdoor park in about half an hour. And Texas votes Super Tuesday. It tells me that she's just looking ahead to the next state and the next state. Similarly, Super Tuesday night, she won't be in a Super Tuesday state. She will be in Michigan, which votes the next week. So you know, listen - she's not at the bottom of the polls, but she's very much not at the top. What it tells me is that she's looking ahead, trying to capitalize on any advantage she can get in terms of time, use her time wisely.
KHALID: And Brian, you said you're at a Buttigieg rally right now. What is his strategy for...
NAYLOR: Right. He's expect (ph)...
KHALID: ...Being in North Carolina?
NAYLOR: Well, it's a Super Tuesday state, and I think it was an acknowledgement that he probably wasn't going to win in South Carolina. So as Danielle said, it was time to move on. And I think he wants to try to hit as many of the Super Tuesday states as possible. He was in Tennessee earlier, before the Raleigh appearance. Tomorrow he's going to Georgia and meet with former President Jimmy Carter, then he's going to take part in the reenactment of the Selma bridge crossing in Alabama. And then it's on to Texas, Oklahoma, California. I think he's just trying to hit as many states as possible, possibly pick up a win somewhere. And even if he doesn't win a state, maybe he can grab some delegates by winning in some congressional districts.
KHALID: A lot of ground to cover there ahead of Super Tuesday for all of them. Danielle, as you talk to people who are checking out Senator Warren, what are they talking about? Are they talking about electability, about beating Trump? What about the issues?
KURTZLEBEN: Yes. Yes, they are talking about electability. Like, you can't go to a Democratic event for any candidate, I don't think, and not hear electability. Aside from that, you can't really go and not hear about health care.
But there's something deeper going on, I think, when you talk to some Warren voters. I spoke to a woman named Amber Schaffer (ph) today in South Carolina, and she told me that she's supporting Warren. And interestingly, she sells health insurance for a living, meaning her job would be at risk if "Medicare for All" would be passed, which Warren supports. So I asked, why do you support her? And here's what she said.
AMBER SCHAFFER (SC WARREN SUPPORTER): Would it mean that lots of people have to look for different kinds of jobs? Absolutely. But I think Warren is one of the few people that's, at least in some part, spoken about that being a reality of something that would need to happen.
KHALID: That's interesting, Danielle. So this issue is so important to her that she's willing, perhaps, to even sacrifice her job to make it happen.
KURTZLEBEN: Yes. And not only that - you talk to Warren supporters and, yes, it's what's in her plans that matters, but it's also the fact that the plans exist that matters to them. It makes them trust her very deeply.
KHALID: And Brian, you're there with the Buttigieg campaign. He's one of the candidates that had been going after Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been the front-runner. What is Buttigieg saying, and how is that message going over?
NAYLOR: Well, so I would say that, you know, he mentions Bernie Sanders but only indirectly. Really, he goes after - as Danielle with Warren, I think he really goes after President Trump. What he does say is that people who go around and make promises, we should say how we're going to pay for it. And that's clearly a reference to Medicare for All and Sanders' reluctance, inability, struggles with explaining how that would be paid for. Buttigieg says, well, I'm going to pay for my plans. I'm going to cut the Trump tax cuts and raise taxes on capital gains. And I think that appeals to, you know, the more moderate Democrats that have been supporting Buttigieg. He has a plan that at least, you know, some analysts seem to think makes some financial, some fiscal sense.
KHALID: I'm curious to ask both of you, Danielle and Brian - Danielle there with the Warren campaign, Brian Naylor with the Buttigieg campaign. As you talk to their supporters, how are they feeling about the sort of current status of their candidates? Neither Warren nor Buttigieg have broken out as a front-runner. Brian, I'll start with you. Do Buttigieg supporters...
KHALID: ...Still think he can, you know - has a chance?
NAYLOR: Yeah. I think there's still optimism. There's still hope that somehow, you know, maybe he wins one of these states and picks up some momentum. They think that he is a, you know - he's a smart guy. They like what he talks about on the stump. And I think he gives a sense of hopefulness in his remarks. It's a lot like former President Obama talking about hope.
And I think Buttigieg has sort of - tries to summon the fond memories that Democrats have of that. But there's still, you know - we're in Raleigh now. They're streaming into this audience - into this high school gym. Last night, there was a good crowd in Columbia. So I think there's still some hope and still some optimism that, you know, maybe lightning will strike.
KHALID: And, Danielle, what about Warren supporters? Still optimistic?
KURTZLEBEN: You hear a real range from people. Quite a few of her supporters, yes, are still optimistic. And Warren still, in her stump speech, feeds that optimism, you know, talking about fighting. I'm going to fight. I'm going to persist, of course, is one of her big words that she uses. It has for a while. But you do talk to some who say, yeah, I know she's behind. I know she would really have to catch up. But you have some people who have just been with her for quite a while and who have liked her not just since the start of this campaign, but for years - ever since the days of the start of the CFPB, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. So those people aren't giving up. They're just saying, listen. I'm sticking with her. And if she drops out, I will vote for whoever.
KHALID: Hearing that from lots of Democrats. I was just in Charlotte, N.C., this past week as part of our Where Voters Are project. And all the Democrats I talked to agreed on one thing - most of them, I should say, agreed that they're voting for the Democratic nominee, although there was a little bit of dispute about that. But yes, hearing lots of that...
KHALID: ...From Democrats during this primary. We've been talking with Danielle Kurtzleben in Houston, Texas, with the Warren campaign, Brian Naylor with the Pete Buttigieg campaign in Raleigh, N.C. They're both following those candidates around. And we will hear more from you later. I want to go now to a couple of my colleagues here in the studio in Washington. Domenico Montanaro is an NPR senior political editor and correspondent. Hello, Domenico.
MARTIN: Hey there.
KHALID: And Mara Liasson, NPR national political correspondent.
MARA LIASSON (BYLINE): Hi there.
KHALID: Curious what you're both thinking as you're hearing all this.
LIASSON: Well, I think - a couple thoughts. First of all, it turns out that South Carolina was Joe Biden's firewall. It prevented him from collapsing altogether. The question is, will it be his springboard? Is it too late for him to raise the money and get the organization that he needs in Super Tuesday states, which is coming in just a couple of days? In years past, there was always more of a breather between the end of the first four primaries and Super Tuesday. So people who got some momentum out of the first four states could build on it. He doesn't have time to do that.
But what you are now hearing from the Biden camp is a really strong push to convince people that this is now a Biden-Sanders race, to convince other candidates to drop out. One of their talking points is that right now, Bernie Sanders' best friends are two billionaires, Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, because as long as they stay in with their giant wallets, they are preventing Joe Biden from emerging as the center-left alternative to Bernie Sanders.
So I think, obviously, we're still waiting to see what turnout is in South Carolina, what the final Biden margin is. But already, you saw Terry McAuliffe, for instance, former governor of Virginia, who was hinting that he might endorse Biden at an event that they're having in Virginia tomorrow. But he came out tonight and endorsed him. I think you're going to see a lot of other major national Democratic figures endorse Biden.
Big question mark is, what does Barack Obama do? He has made it really clear he does not want to get involved in this primary. He only wants to work hard for whoever is the eventual nominee. But if Biden is kind of the - becomes the logical alternative to Bernie Sanders, there are going to be a lot of questions why Barack Obama isn't willing to endorse his former vice president.
MARTIN: Well, there might be a lot of people who want to pressure him to do that.
MARTIN: But it would be so far outside of the typical sort of stripe for Barack Obama to want to go and do that...
LIASSON: Absolutely. Absolutely.
MARTIN: ...Because he, I think, has been very cautious not to irritate the Sanders base in particular, you know, even in 2016 when Hillary Clinton was running. So I really doubt that he's going to come out and do something like that. But, you know, there could be, obviously, discussions about why he's not doing it. There might be people connected to Obama world who you start to see blind leaks from, who then start to talk about whether or not...
LIASSON: I think him not doing it is going to be interpreted as a vote of no confidence in Biden. And don't forget, this isn't just a typical - gee, is the president going to endorse his former vice president? A lot of Democrats are feeling that this primary is an existential moment for the Democratic Party and that if Bernie Sanders is the nominee, he will not only lose to Donald Trump - these are elected Democrats who have to run for reelection, many of them...
LIASSON: ...In competitive states and districts, who believe that if Bernie Sanders is the nominee, he will not only lose, but he will also cost Democrats Senate and House seats.
KHALID: And, Mara, I got to stop you there. We're going to go back to our colleague Michel Martin, who is in South Carolina right now. Hello, Michel.
MARTIN: Hello. And I'm going to go to a guest who knows the state very well. He is the former governor of South Carolina. He served from 1999 to 2003. It's Jim Hodges. Governor, thank you so much for speaking with us.
JIM HODGES (FORMER D-SC, GOV): Good to be with you. How are you tonight?
MARTIN: Very well now that I'm speaking to you. And I understand that you are a supporter of Joe Biden. Can I ask you, what was the critical factor in your decision to support the former vice president?
HODGES: He can beat Donald Trump. I think he's our best candidate to beat Donald Trump in the general election. And he's shown tonight that he can build a broad coalition of Democrats, Republicans, independents to be able to take Trump out. And there's no doubt the evidence tonight shows that.
MARTIN: And you must be very relieved.
HODGES: I wouldn't say I'm relieved. I expected him to win. I think he's going to win by even more than I thought he would win tonight, which shows the strong support he has. We have people showing up to vote tonight that have not voted Democratic in the past. And they voted primarily because Joe Biden is on the ticket.
MARTIN: You know, other people who have - are supporting the former vice president actually have been rather concerned about his performance on the campaign trail. I think I have a clip here from Representative Jim Clyburn speaking earlier today. Do we have that clip? And can we play it?
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JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC, REP): We need to do some retooling in the campaign - no question about that. I did not feel free to speak out about it or to even deal with it inside because I had not committed to his candidacy. I have now. I'm all in. And I'm not going to sit idly and watch people mishandle this campaign.
MARTIN: OK. What about you, Governor? Did you have any of those concerns? That was former Representative - that is - sorry - Representative Jim Clyburn talking to Ana Cabrera on CNN earlier today. Did you have those same concerns? Have you - concerned that his campaign was not doing when it needed to do?
HODGES: No. I mean, actually, I thought he was going to win all along. You know, like everybody, I think the early primary and caucus states were a wake-up call. But I saw plenty of evidence here that the coalition was going to be ready to give him a substantial victory tonight, and that's what happened.
MARTIN: And what about his performance in - forgive me, Governor. What about his performance in the debates? Some people have said he's lacked energy. They feel that his answers have been rambling or whiny when he - complaining about the lack of time. Have you had any of those concerns about his performance on the campaign trail?
HODGES: Well, he's pretty damn good the other night. I thought his debate performance was outstanding the other night. And I thought the energy was good. So I have no complaints about that. I think that, you know, the question moving forward to me is that if Senator Sanders does as poorly as he's doing tonight with African-American voters, how can he legitimately be our nominee? I think Biden is the one who has shown that he's capable of building all the Democratic coalition and winning in the states we need to win in. And I think that's the lesson from tonight.
MARTIN: Any other lessons from tonight? Is there any others? Very briefly, if you would.
HODGES: Yeah. You know, what's interesting to me is that we appear to have a substantial turnout not just of African American voters but of white suburban voters who, in large part, are here because they want Donald Trump to be beaten.
MARTIN: OK. All right. We'll be - we will keep an eye on that. That is the former governor of South Carolina, Jim Hodges. Governor, thank you so much for joining us.
HODGES: You bet. Thank you.
MARTIN: And you're listening to live Special Coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary from NPR News.
And I'm going now to Victoria Hansen, who is a reporter for South Carolina Public Radio. Victoria, you are based in Charleston. You've been on the ground, talking to voters all week. Let's pick up where the former Governor Jim Hodges left off. He says that the turnout has been strong. He expected Joe Biden to win all along. What are you hearing?
VICTORIA HANSEN (BYLINE): Oh, absolutely. You know, in Charleston, ever since the debate Tuesday night, there has just been this buzz about Joe Biden - and then, of course, the endorsement with Jim Clyburn on Wednesday. You know, Joe Biden has so much support in South Carolina but especially in the low country. And reading about these exit polls, reading about this nostalgia for President Obama when Biden was vice president - I've heard a lot of that, especially from black voters I spoke with, you know, going to the debate, carrying signs, very optimistic, feeling like, this is my guy. I remember when. You know, I remember Joe Biden when. And I just - in Charleston tonight, I can just - and then Columbia tonight covering some of the watch parties. But I can almost feel the people cheering in Charleston from here.
MARTIN: And this is an open primary Republicans and Democrats can vote in. We had heard earlier in the week that there were groups frankly encouraging Republicans to participate in the primary to throw it to Bernie Sanders.
HANSEN: Oh, yeah.
MARTIN: There are different interpretations of why they were saying that that was the point. Some of it was to - what they think Bernie Sanders is the weaker candidate or just to sow general chaos. Is there any evidence that happened?
HANSEN: You know, that's a very good question. They call it Operation Chaos. It was put together by a kind of a grassroots effort of Tea Party folks up in Greenville. But it's been statewide. And I was in the Trump rally yesterday, and I spoke with a voter who was waiting in line. She'd been waiting since, I guess, Tuesday. And this was Friday. And she said, you know what? I'm going to go vote for Bernie Sanders tomorrow, meaning today. And she said this is going to make it a case of, you know, socialism versus capitalism.
And then I went inside. And, you know, the president spoke, and I was kind of taken aback because he went out and said it. He basically encouraged people inside the North Charleston Coliseum - Republicans - to go out and vote today. You know, and he even kind of took a poll. He called it his unscientific survey of fake news. But he went down the line of each candidate. You know, and he basically decided with the crowd's help which would be the one that would be the least likely to beat him. And they came up with Bernie Sanders.
MARTIN: Well, but based on what we're seeing so far, at least in the early results - and we'll get more as the night goes on - it doesn't seem to have been as effective as perhaps they had hoped. But tell me what else President Trump had to say at his rally on Friday. What were some of the other takeaways from there? And how did that crowd look?
HANSEN: Oh, my gosh. Well, you know, it's hard - that was my first Trump rally. I've seen many, but that was the first one that I've experienced in person. And so I have to tell you I was a little jolted by the whole thing that way. I mean, he mentioned fake news off the top. You know, right away, he was pointing to the news cameras and had the whole crowd turn around. And they were looking at us. And fake news was mentioned so many times - people in the crowd screaming at us, screaming obscenities.
MARTIN: A little disturbing. A little disturbing?
HANSEN: Yeah, I felt really uncomfortable. I mean, I felt that watching the White House press pool with him before, but I had never personally felt like, hey, this is my community - people - I've lived on and off here as a journalist for 30 years. I know people in the crowd. I feel rather safe. But I didn't feel good leaving there last night.
MARTIN: All right. Well, something to - well, thanks for pointing that out. That is Victoria Hansen. She's a reporter for South Carolina Public Radio. Victoria, thanks so much for joining us. This is live Special Coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary from NPR News. We will be right back.
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MARTIN: Joe Biden has won the Democratic primary in South Carolina. That's according to a projection by the Associated Press. You're listening to Special Coverage of the primary from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin, broadcasting from South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia.
KHALID: And I'm Sarah McCammon in Washington. Former Vice President Joe Biden needed a win today, and he got one. He'll now be looking to reenergize his campaign after early stumbles in Iowa and New Hampshire.
MARTIN: And I'm going to go now to Anton Gunn, who was President Obama's - then-candidate Obama's - 2008 South Carolina political director. Mr. Gunn, thank you so much for talking to us.
ANTON GUNN (FORMER DIRECTOR, OBAMA 2008 SC CAMPAIGN): Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: Speaking of energy, what did you attribute Joe Biden's win here to? I mean, you - I know you've talked about the importance of ground game in South Carolina. You certainly were all the masters of that. But what do you think was the relevant factor here for Joe Biden?
GUNN: Yeah. So I would say two things - ground game is paramount in South Carolina. And Joe Biden had one of our senior Obama team members that ran his operation here in South Carolina, a gentleman by the name of Kendall Corley. I think that helped him tremendously. But I think the main thing that helped Joe Biden's is that black voters were with him. I've read some exit polls that said he received 60% of the black vote in South Carolina, which is monumental. And I think we can definitely attribute that to Congressman Jim Clyburn's endorsement over the last week or so, as well as the amount of surrogates that he's had come into the state.
And so black voters are the base of the Democratic Party. They have kind of demonstrated that over and over again - that if they're with you, you have a chance at the nomination and a chance to win the overall election. But if they're not with you, then you don't have much of a chance to find success. And I think Joe Biden gave himself a huge boost up towards Super Tuesday because he did so well with black voters.
MARTIN: And I take it that prior to tonight's results, you were actually somewhat skeptical that this would actually happen. Am I right about that?
GUNN: Yes, you're exactly right because I'll tell you - I have a small focus group, particularly of African American women, who are the biggest part of the Democratic electorate and the biggest part of the base here - is that I have a small, internal focus group of friends that I asked them where they were. And they were all undecided up until about 72 hours ago - I mean, completely undecided. And so I thought that they would probably split and go to different places - Tom Steyer, to, you know, Pete Buttigieg. I thought it would go a lot of places. And after checking in with all of them today, they all say that they voted for Joe Biden.
MARTIN: And what was the relevant factor for them? What - why did they say that that was their choice at the end of the day?
GUNN: Well I think that, there was a combination of two things. Number one, as Southerners, people are generally pragmatic. We really want to find success that benefits everybody. And so they saw Joe as a pragmatic candidate who can continue to move the conversation forward in the same way that Barack Obama moved the conversation forward. And I think secondarily, they wanted someone with some executive experience, some experience that they felt like would help them to lead the country, particularly as the coronavirus is starting to creep up. And so those are some of the things that I heard. And they just really wanted someone really strong, with experience, that they were familiar with, that they knew had a commitment to the African American community and has been supportive long term, and I think that's what they found in Joe Biden.
MARTIN: Speaking of Barack Obama, what do you think that the former president's going to do? I mean, do you feel - I mean, I'm assuming that you talk to him from time to time - I'm not asking you to speak for him now - but do you think that he should come out sooner rather than later?
GUNN: Absolutely not. Barack Obama...
GUNN: He's not. That's correct. Barack Obama is a statesman. And he knows the benefit of a competitive primary. It actually is what helped him to be a successful nominee and also to win the election in 2008 - is because he had to run through a gauntlet to beat Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd and all these other candidates that were in in 2008. So he fundamentally believes that a competitive primary is good for you. It actually helps prepare you for the haymakers and the low blows that you're going to take in a general election. And so he wants this to be a competitive primary process, and he's going to stay out of the way.
Now, here's the other point of it that I believe - is that if we end up at a brokered convention because no one is able to get to 1,991 delegates on the first ballot, Barack Obama is going to have to be that common voice that helps to broker the convention. And that's where I think he will be. And that's why I think he'll stay out of it until the process works itself out.
MARTIN: All right. That's Anton Gunn. He was the political director for then-candidate Senator Barack Obama in 2008, who, of course, went on to become a two-term president. Anton Gunn, thanks so much for talking to us and offering your insights.
GUNN: You're welcome.
MARTIN: And I'm going to go back to our analysts here in our studios in Columbia, S.C., Ron Elving and Scott Huffman. Tom Steyer - Ron Elving, when we last spoke with you, you said this is somebody who we should be talking about. Why? He's a billionaire, businessman, philanthropist, played a big role here, made a big stand here, seemed to really connect emotionally with people here. Results are still coming in, but why do you think we should be talking about him?
BIDEN: We should be talking about him because he bet his campaign on South Carolina every bit as much as Joe Biden did in the end because he put $23 million into ads here in South Carolina, digital, as well as television. He was everywhere, but he was particularly targeting the black community. He said, that's where I can take votes away from Joe Biden. That's where maybe some of the other candidates won't. The other candidates will take white votes away from Joe Biden, but I can go after Biden's black base. That did not seem to happen, although he did supposedly get a substantial fraction of the vote, maybe 14% or something like that, among black voters. That's certainly nothing like what he had in mind. And he did such a good job not only of spending that $23 million but also spending a great deal of his time in the community, in South Carolina, week after week, not just the last few days. He's really gone after it. He really saw this as his opportunity. And it just doesn't seem to have...
MARTIN: And what do you read from that? That this really was Joe Biden's firewall? What do you read from that?
BIDEN: There is that phrase that we heard from the professor's book a moment ago, steadfast voters. The voters of South Carolina - and particularly the African American voters here - are people with long memories and deep loyalties. And they felt more comfortable with Joe Biden. And when that endorsement from Jim Clyburn came in, he said, I know Joe. You know Joe. But most importantly, he knows us. That line really resonated.
MARTIN: Scott Huffman, what's on your mind?
ELVING: Well, you know, the Tom Steyer issue - I think he really was pulling some votes away from Biden, but they were loosely connected. Also, think about those number of undivided. Tom Steyer was simply at the top of mind of a lot of people because of all the money he spent, but they weren't committed Tom Steyer voters. And I believe a lot of them - it took nothing more than a nudge from the elder statesman here in South Carolina to push them over to Joe Biden. And so, again, that speaks to the weak attachment that people had to Tom Steyer. The money can buy you name recognition, but when push comes to shove, when you have somebody you trust push you towards a candidate, you're going to make that leap.
MARTIN: Well, we only have a couple seconds left here, but that makes me wonder about Mike Bloomberg, who is competing going forward and has the endorsement of a number of high-profile people, including the mayor of the city that we are sitting in now. Brief thought about that, anybody?
BIDEN: Well, he wasn't on the ballot here, so we didn't get a good measure of that. We'll get a much better measure in the six states in the South where there are substantial black populations that are going to be voting on Tuesday.
MARTIN: All right. Ron Elving, Scott Huffman, I hope you'll stay with us for more analysis. We're going to go back to Washington, D.C., and Sarah McCammon.
KHALID: Good evening. I'm Sarah McCammon. And I'm joined now by Julian Castro, former HUD secretary - Housing and Urban Development secretary - under President Obama and also a former 2020 presidential candidate in the Democratic primary. Hello there, Secretary Castro.
JULIAN CASTRO (FORMER US HUD SECRETARY): Great to be with you.
KHALID: And you are - tell us where you are right now, if you would please?
CASTRO: I am actually on the road in Texas. We're hitting several different cities these days for Senator Warren.
KHALID: And you've been - you, of course, endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren. You have been with her on the road. You joined her for a rally in San Antonio recently, where you're the former mayor, as well. She's in Houston today, looking ahead to Super Tuesday, putting less emphasis on the South Carolina primary. What do you see as her chances at this point?
CASTRO: Well, what I see is a campaign that has been built to last. She invested in strong organizing, putting more than a thousand staff members in 31 different states. She's visited about 30 states in this campaign. She's put resources here into Texas, competing, of course, in the other big prize on Super Tuesday, which is California, but also the other states that are going to go on Super Tuesday. And after the Nevada debate, the South Carolina debate, I think she has some momentum, and the numbers reflect that. So I believe that she can do well in these states.
And as has been pointed out before, something like 95% of the delegates that are going to be awarded in this presidential nominating process are still to be awarded. They haven't been awarded yet. So, you know, this was a good night for Vice President Biden, no doubt. But there are plenty of opportunities still on Super Tuesday and after that for Senator Warren and other candidates.
KHALID: Well, Secretary Castro, Senator Warren was polling around 9% in South Carolina behind Biden, Sanders and Steyer. We'll see where the final results come in tonight. But, you know, with numbers like that, what is her pitch to voters who see this race as really starting to shape up between Biden and Sanders? Why should they give her a shot?
CASTRO: Well, progressives - and progressive ideas, as she said on the debate stage a few days ago, they're popular ideas. There are progressive ideas and progressive results. And she's the only one that can claim both of those things.
CASTRO: I believe...
KHALID: Go ahead.
CASTRO: ...That if progressives step back and take a look at - you know, if it does become Vice President Biden, you actually have a better chance, if you're a progressive, of backing a candidate who can defeat him in a primary if you support Elizabeth Warren because she has greater reach not only with the progressive community but into, I think, the middle and can consolidate more of that support. And that's why I think that after what happened in South Carolina - that people are actually - progressives are going to take a stronger look at Elizabeth Warren.
KHALID: How decisive, though, do you think next Tuesday will be for her?
CASTRO: Oh, it's important. I mean, there's no doubt about that. And she's been working hard. As you said, she's in Houston. She's going to be in a few of the other states that are voting on Super Tuesday. Something like 40% of the delegates are awarded on Super Tuesday, and so it is big. She's invested in the organizing there. I've been out to several of the states that are voting on Super Tuesday - Colorado, Texas, California. There's a lot of enthusiasm for her. And so, in so many ways, it represents a great opportunity for Senator Warren.
KHALID: I've been talking with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro. Thank you so much for talking with us.
CASTRO: Thank you.
KHALID: I'm going to go now to my colleague Pam Fessler, NPR national correspondent covering voting issues. Pam's here in the studio. Hi, Pam.
PAM FESSLER (BYLINE): Hi, Sarah.
KHALID: So one of the big questions, of course, after Iowa - we're really focused on how voting goes. How did it go tonight in South Carolina?
FESSLER: Yeah. It actually seems to have gone quite smoothly. As you know, South Carolina was one of a number of states this year that's moved to all-new voting equipment. They've gotten rid of their old touch-screen machines. For the first time this year, they're using machines - equipment that produce paper ballots. A lot of the - most states are moving in that direction because of security concerns. And so there was - you know, people were a little worried, with all the voters having to - and the poll workers all having to use new equipment - whether they would be able to do it, whether there'd be any breakdowns, whether there'd be long lines. And quite frankly, we didn't see much of that at all. There were a few, you know, malfunctions - machines here and there. But it's pretty standard stuff.
I think they were helped a little bit by the fact that they had quite a lot of people voting early absentee, so that took off some of the pressure today to use the new equipment. I was down there this week. And the voters I talked to who used this equipment voting early absentee - they liked it quite a bit. You know, they found it very easy to use. They liked the fact that they were actually getting a paper ballot that they could look at. They could see who they had selected. There are still some concerns from computer scientists about the way those ballots are counted. But, you know, for initial results, it seems to have gone quite well.
KHALID: And I want to, really quickly, in just about 40 seconds or so, go to Domenico Montanaro. What can you tell us about what the exit polls are telling us about how this all came down tonight?
MARTIN: Well, Biden appears to have won a pretty broad coalition. And that endorsement from Jim Clyburn, the congressman from South Carolina - very popular, third-ranking African American in - highest-ranking African American in Congress - that endorsement was a big deal for a lot of people. Almost half of voters said that his endorsement was a factor. And Biden overwhelmingly won those who said his endorsement was the most important factor. He got 57% of the vote of those who said it was the most important factor - Sanders way behind at 16%. And 36% of people said they made up their mind in the last few days. And Biden won those voters by more than 20 points.
KHALID: So pretty smooth voting, Pam Fessler tells us. And a lot of results coming in. We'll take a closer look as the evening goes on to more of the exit polls and more of the final results from South Carolina - from the South Carolina primary. You're listening to live Special Coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary from NPR News.
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MARTIN: And we're going to go now to NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis, who is covering a candidate who has loomed large over the contest, even though he is not on the ballot in South Carolina. We're talking about the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Sue Davis, hello.
SUSAN DAVIS (BYLINE): Hey, Michel.
MARTIN: So tell us where you are.
DAVIS: Hey there. I'm in Charlotte, N.C.
MARTIN: In Charlotte, N.C.
DAVIS: Charlotte, N.C. We're not that far apart. Mike Bloomberg is obviously not on the ballot in any of the early states. He's been running a campaign focused on Super Tuesday. North Carolina, of course, third-most delegate-rich state coming up on Tuesday. And he's making a strong play in the South in the closing days of the race.
MARTIN: And so why are you in Charlotte? What's going on there? You're - and what - tell us about the event that you're at now.
DAVIS: He's at a state Democratic Party dinner. He's one of the only two candidates speaking here tonight. The other is Amy Klobuchar. All the other campaigns have - are sending surrogates in their place. Mike Bloomberg's put a lot of resources into North Carolina. He opened his first field office here. It is, obviously, one of many states that has been blanketed in the ads that he has spent all across the country. He's approaching, I believe, if not crossed, a half-a-billion-dollar mark in ad spending in this race in order to get his message out.
MARTIN: And one of his message - well, look. Implied in the Bloomberg candidacy is the notion that Joe Biden was not as strong a candidate as many Democratic voters would like, that he is a moderate, that - in the so-called moderate lane. Now that Joe Biden is showing more strength, what are people saying about that? I understand that the results have just come in, but what are you hearing?
DAVIS: Look. If Joe Biden had had a not as good of a night, that would be a better strategic place to be for Mike Bloomberg. He obviously entered this race at this moment where there was this feeling that the field wasn't strong enough. There was questions about Biden's viability. Obviously, a big win in South Carolina for Joe Biden changes his trajectory going into Super Tuesday. And there's just a simple calculation the voters have to make here because they're clearly vying for the same pool of voters, the sort of anti-Bernie Sanders vote. And the reality is, is Bloomberg going to be able to show enough support to suggest that he's the choice over Joe Biden? Or does he just play a spoiler role? Do they sort of split the vote and actually elevate or promote the Bernie Sanders candidacy? - which is exactly what Mike Bloomberg got into this race to try to prevent.
MARTIN: Tell us a little bit about what it's like to be with Mike Bloomberg on the campaign trail. I mean, of course, he's got the ubiquitous ads. I think if you probably have a television or a screen of any kind, I'm thinking that you will have seen one. But what's it like at his events? And he hasn't had the best debate performances onstage. What's it like to be out on the campaign trail with him?
DAVIS: You know, the only thing I know for certain is that it's pretty great to be a billionaire. That's one thing that's very clear. I mean, he's had the resources to just put on campaign events all over every city he wants to go to. Not only is he having these campaign events. He's fully catering them for everyone that shows up and attends that event - probably a good way to get people in the door. You know, he's got infrastructure in 14 states. He's got thousands of paid staff. And you can really see it on the ground. It's a smooth, well-run operation. The question is - you know, he's got the resources. He's got the infrastructure. Does he have the passion among the voters? Does he have the support he needs? And, you know, we'll know soon enough.
MARTIN: That is Susan Davis, NPR congressional correspondent. She's covering the campaign of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. This is live Special Coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary. We'll be right back.
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MARTIN: A win for Joe Biden. From NPR News, this is live Special Coverage of the South Carolina primary. I'm Michel Martin broadcasting from South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia.
KHALID: And I'm Sarah McCammon in Washington. Biden was confident of a win even before the voting started.
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DETROW: I intend to win South Carolina. And I will win the African American vote here in South Carolina.
KHALID: Now the Associated Press is projecting a victory for the former vice president. And we're waiting to hear from Biden as he addresses supporters in South Carolina any moment now.
MARTIN: What will this result mean for Biden and the other Democratic candidates heading into Super Tuesday? We have reporters covering all the candidates' campaigns tonight, plus analysis here in our studios in Columbia, S.C., and Washington, D.C. This is live Special Coverage of the South Carolina primary from NPR News.
KHALID: And we're going to go now to senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro, who is in the studio with me. Hi, Domenico.
MARTIN: Hey, Sarah.
KHALID: So you've been looking at exit polls all night. What are you learning about who actually voted for Biden, gave him this projected win?
MARTIN: Well, so far, we're seeing actual results coming in. And Joe Biden is doing quite well overall. You know, about half the vote - still a slim percentage of the vote that's in, so we'll expect those numbers to change. But what we know here is that South Carolina, as expected, was more than half African American, 55% according to the exit polls. And Joe Biden won them overwhelmingly, won 60% of their vote. And remember, earlier this week, Jim Clyburn, the congressman from South Carolina who's very well-known, very well-liked especially among black voters, the highest ranking African American in Congress - his endorsement made a big difference. Half of voters said that Clyburn's endorsement was an important factor in their vote, and Biden also won them overwhelmingly. And we saw that almost 4 in 10 voters made up their minds just in the last few days. And Biden won them by more than 20 points over Bernie Sanders. So a lot of those factors - reasons for why it looks like Joe Biden's had a big night.
KHALID: And you're seeing a bit of a generational divide in some of these results, right?
MARTIN: Yeah, the pretty typical stuff that we've seen previously when it comes to age. I mean, those who are under 30 overwhelmingly went to Bernie Sanders. Sanders won them by more than 20 points, but they were only 11% of the electorate. Those 65 and older were 3 in 10 voters in this election and Biden won them going away. He had 58% of them. Tom Steyer was second with them with just 14% of the vote. So humongous age gap in age difference. Biden won everybody over 30. Sanders overwhelmingly won those under 30.
KHALID: Thanks, Domenico. We're going to go now to Asma Khalid, who is in South Carolina with the Biden campaign. Hi, Asma.
LAKE: Hey there. How are you?
KHALID: I'm doing well. You've been talking to Biden supporters there, right?
LAKE: We have been. And, you know, people here - you get kind of a mix of explanations for why they decided to support the former vice president. But one of the most consistent explanations I've been given, not just here tonight but frankly for months when I've been talking to voters in South Carolina, is the fact that Biden was a loyal, faithful No. 2, they feel, to the country's first African American president. And that means a lot. You know, I think a lot of folks like to joke about the frequency with which Joe Biden brings up Barack Obama's name, but I don't think it should be, maybe, underestimated how much value that has with a number of voters, specifically African American voters.
KHALID: And I want to talk, Asma, about Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire latecomer to the race. He's looming on Super Tuesday. He has put kind of all his focus on Super Tuesday, skipping the early states. Exit polls showed Biden popular there and Bloomberg less so. How might tonight's result sort of change the way the moderate lane of this race looks against, you know, candidates like Bernie Sanders?
LAKE: Yeah, Sarah, that is the big question. And Bloomberg is not the only moderate, really, in question. I mean, there are sort of, you know, subdivisions underneath him when we look at Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg. And for a while, we've seen that moderate lane divided up there. But Bloomberg, to me, is really the major unknown factor. What I will say, Sarah, is that he has been spending a just gargantuan sum of money in states that are going to be voting on Super Tuesday. And, you know, I believe the last, I checked it was over $200 million worth of ads in all of the 14 states.
Biden's - last time I checked, he was only focused on about six Southern states, largely the states that have a pretty sizable African American population. So it's a more nuanced path that he was, prior, I should say, to South Carolina tonight, looking at. I don't know that we will know the answer to that question. I think it's a very valuable question until actually Super Tuesday comes around because Mike Bloomberg - he has not been on the ballot anywhere. So all we know about how he would do largely comes from polls. He's just not been tested thus far in the campaign cycle.
KHALID: Really quickly, Asma, Mara Liasson is in the studio here. And I think, Mara, you wanted to weigh in.
LIASSON: Well, I - the question - the thing that I am looking for - and I don't know if Asma has any sense of this yet - is if - how many counties in South Carolina will Sanders fall below 15% in?
LIASSON: That's kind of the key. We know Joe Biden has won. We also have - now we can predict that Bernie Sanders will be the No. 2. But if Biden can keep him under 15 in enough places, that is a formula that he can use across the South on Super Tuesday to keep competitive with Bernie Sanders. He has to win by these kinds of big blowout margins.
LAKE: He does need to win by these margins. One thing I will say, though, Mara - we don't know, I think, the answers yet to that question of where Bernie Sanders met or didn't meet the 15% threshold. But I'm reminded of both 2016 and 2008, where the eventual Democratic nominee had huge blowouts in South Carolina. And yet those races did continue on for months and months. So I will say I don't see this race wrapping up anytime soon. I mean, we're talking about a situation in 2008 where Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton - wasn't it by, like, 50 points, almost?
LIASSON: No, no, yes, but I'm talking about - is a kind of dynamic that would show that Biden could be...
LIASSON: ...Competitive going forward if, in states with large African American populations, he can keep Sanders under 15% in enough counties. That's how he eventually can catch up.
LAKE: That is a valid question. One thing I will point out, though, is when you look at the demographics of Super Tuesday states, one thing I think that we maybe are sort of overlooking at this moment was how strong Bernie Sanders did with the Latino population in Nevada. And I don't know if that was a one-off or if that will be, you know, something that we see continued on in California and Texas. But the percentage of Latinos who are eligible to vote in Super Tuesday states is larger than the percentage of Latinos, you know, nationwide. They're sort of overrepresented in Super Tuesday states. So as much as Biden's campaign likes to focus on black voters, I think there's this other portion of the diverse electorate that they, thus far, have not done as well with.
LIASSON: That's right, although African Americans are disproportionately important in the general election...
LIASSON: ...Because they have big populations in the battleground states. The places where Hispanics have big chunks of the population - they are not necessarily battlegrounds states in the general election.
KHALID: Lots to watch as we look ahead to Super Tuesday. We've been talking with NPR's Mara Liasson here in Washington and Asma Khalid with the Joe Biden campaign in South Carolina. Of course, there are - besides Biden and Sanders, there are other candidates still in this race. And we're going to go now to our colleague Michel Martin, who's in South Carolina and, I think, is going to have a conversation with one of Buttigieg's surrogates, if I'm not mistaken.
MARTIN: Yes, I am. I'm going to speak with J.A. Moore. He is a state representative. He represents Berkeley and Charleston counties. And he supported Pete Buttigieg in this contest. Representative Moore, thank you so much for talking to us.
J A MOORE (D-SC, STATE REP): Thank you so much for having me.
MARTIN: It's my...
MOORE: How are y'all doing this evening?
MARTIN: I'm doing great, especially now that I'm talking to you. I understand that you initially supported California Senator Kamala Harris, correct?
MOORE: Yeah. And I - you know, let me be clear. I still support Kamala. She's a phenomenal person, a great senator for the people in California. But in this contest, you know, I thought Pete Buttigieg was the person that could bring about new generation leadership for the people here in South Carolina and across this country.
MARTIN: Exactly, because Senator Harris did suspend her campaign before the first votes took place. How did Pete Buttigieg...
MARTIN: ...Get your attention? What was his - did he reach out to you? Did you reach out to him? How did you get on each other's radar?
MOORE: Yeah. Well, initially, his campaign and Pete himself reached out to me early on last year around this time. And, you know, just really, you know - originally, when I originally spoke with him, it was probably the day before that I was planning on publicly endorsing Kamala. And I said, look. You know, I have my candidate. And his next response was, I didn't call you for endorsement. I called you to learn more about South Carolina and the people you represent.
And we had about a 30-minute conversation. And I found him to be thoughtful, intelligent, a person of faith. And, you know, he was probably the most thoughtful listener I've ever had the opportunity of speaking with. And so I just - you know, it was a long-term conversation that we had that started early on last year with him and his campaign. And obviously, when Kamala - when I publicly endorsed Kamala, you know, I was all in for her. And when she suspended her campaign, conversations with Pete and his team started again.
MARTIN: And so what do you think has been the - you obviously find much to like about him. I mean, you mentioned the generational change. You mentioned - forgive me for pointing this out. You're on the younger side, if I may point that out. You consider him to be a person who could build coalitions. You think that he is electable.
We're not getting all the results in so far, except that we do know that Senator - former Vice President Biden is projected to have won South Carolina. So we don't know who's in the No. 2, No. 3 sort of position. But there does seem to - the former Mayor Buttigieg does seem to have had some trouble getting traction in South Carolina. A lot of people think that he hasn't really sold - made his case effectively with African American voters in particular. Why do you think that is?
MOORE: Well, I mean, he made his case for me. And last I checked, I was an African American voter. But look. I mean, I think - and I talked privately with his campaign and then publicly with folks over the past several weeks. You know, the challenge and the opportunity that we had here in South Carolina is people really want to feel like they know you when they vote for you. That was the case in my race when I, you know - when I beat, you know, a long-term incumbent in the state House. And it's true for folks that are running for president in any office.
And I think if we had more time here in South Carolina for folks to get to know Pete Buttigieg, I think we would've have had a different outcome. You have to remember, this time a year ago, most people could not even say his name, let alone, you know, know anything about his policy or his background. And the former vice president - I definitely want to give congratulations to his team here in South Carolina, his national team, him, as well, for a great job - election.
MOORE: You're talking about decades and decades here in South Carolina and on the national stage that the former vice president had.
MARTIN: OK. That is representative J.A. Moore. He's a member of the state House in South Carolina. And he has been supporting, first, Kamala Harris and then Pete Buttigieg. And we'll see what happens going forward. Representative Moore, thanks so much for sharing your insights with us tonight.
MOORE: Thank you so much for having me. Y'all have a good evening. I know you have a long night ahead of you.
MARTIN: All right. Take care.
KHALID: And I'm Sarah McCammon in studio in Washington with Domenico Montanaro and Mara Liasson, two of my colleagues. Hello. Thanks for joining us.
MARTIN: Hey, Sarah.
LIASSON: Happy to be here.
KHALID: So, Mara, you were saying something really interesting to me earlier about the significance of this win in South Carolina, this projected win for former Vice President Joe Biden.
LIASSON: Well, it's very significant because if he hadn't won here, I think his campaign would've been over. So yes, it was his firewall. He said it was going to be, and it served - and it turned out it was. The question I have is, will it be a springboard for him? He needs to do really well on Super Tuesday. Bernie Sanders has a lot more money than him. He has a lot more organization for him - than him. Don't forget Sanders has basically been running for the last four years. You know, he's done this before. This was Joe Biden's first time winning a state, and he started running for president in 1988. He ran in 1988, 2008 and now now. So 32 years of trying, and this South Carolina is the first state that Joe Biden has won. So this must be a moment to savor.
KHALID: Historic, as well as significant.
LIASSON: Historic, historic. But the question is, you know, he said all along, you cannot win the nomination without reenacting or reconfiguring the Democratic coalition, which is African American voters and white liberals. And he did it in South Carolina. He did it as well as he could have been expected to do. Can he do it elsewhere? And the thing that I'm watching for tonight is, how well does Sanders do? Because if he falls beneath 15%, which is the threshold to get delegates in a lot of places in South Carolina, it tells you that maybe Joe Biden can keep Sanders to under 15% in other states that have big African American populations. That is the way, just mathematically, that Biden can catch up to Sanders.
KHALID: Domenico, I want to...
MARTIN: And right now, Sanders is teetering on that line. He's only getting about 16% of the vote.
LIASSON: I mean, we don't have a lot of vote counted, but yeah.
KHALID: I want to quickly go back to something you said earlier, Domenico, about the fact that there were so many late deciders in South Carolina. What does that say to you about where voters are at in this Democratic primary?
MARTIN: They're still very much undecided in a lot of places and a lot of times, and there's - why there's so many candidates who are still running in the race. You know, you talk to voters. And you could come back to the same people. And they've got a new candidate in mind, and they keep talking about that. But I do think that the Biden campaign is trying to at least make this a race between him and Sanders. And, you know, been talking about for a week, frankly, I talked to official - an official on their campaign wondering why Buttigieg and Klobuchar were still in the race since they're not doing so well.
LIASSON: Their - I think the new theme is going to be....
KHALID: We'll come right back to that thought, Mara. I got to stop you. You're listening to live Special Coverage of the South Carolina Democratic Party from NPR News.
MARTIN: And now we're going to go to Eddie Bernice Johnson, congresswoman from Texas' 30th District. She's a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and she has endorsed Joe Biden for the presidency. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, thank you so much for talking to us.
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON (D-TX, REP): Sure.
MARTIN: A good night for your candidate?
JOHNSON: Yes, it is. I'm delighted.
MARTIN: So there's a reason why, you know, South Carolina's first in the South. I mean, obviously, a lot of people organized for South Carolina to take that position because there was a feeling that it is - it's a more diverse state and that it's more similar to a number of the other states than, you know, Iowa and New Hampshire are. How is the race looking where you are?
JOHNSON: Well, I'm in Texas. We've had very little activity in the Biden race, but we do have quite a bit of support. I've reached out where I could. And there's a small volunteer organization that's reached out. I think - I know he's leading in the polls. I hope we have the momentum to keep him No. 1 in, the state. I think it's a state that's probably more in tune with his history than some of the other candidates.
MARTIN: Are any of the other candidates impressing you?
JOHNSON: Well I can't say that I dislike any of the candidates. I think some are more dreamers than realists, but Biden is my choice.
MARTIN: Why is he your choice, if you don't mind fleshing that out for us?
JOHNSON: Well, I've known him for years. I supported him in 1988. I did not support him the last election he was in, but we maintain friendships and maintain a working relationship. I just believe that he is more in tune with the country. I think that he'll show more momentum once he comes out of South Carolina. And I do feel very, very confident that he can be victorious against Mr. Trump.
MARTIN: Is his campaign impressing you? Is he doing what you think he needs to do? Is he showing the kind of vigor you expect to see on the campaign trail? Is he doing what he needs to do in the debate? Do you feel his campaign is on point?
JOHNSON: I've had some questions. However, I know that his campaign organization does not seem to be that strong, and when that is the case, the candidate sometimes shows a few periods of tension. I truly believe that he is a man who can get control of this country and know how to put a good cabinet in place and bring America back to where we'd like it to be.
MARTIN: That is Eddie Bernice Johnson. She represents Texas's 30th District in the House of Representatives. She is a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus. And as she has been telling us, she is a supporter of former Vice President Joe Biden, who is projected to have won the South Carolina primary today. Heading into Super Tuesday next week, where Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee will also be in play. Congresswoman Johnson, thank you so much for talking to us.
JOHNSON: Thank you very much.
MARTIN: And this is live Special Coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary from NPR News. We will be right back with much more from South Carolina and around the country.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: Joe Biden has won the Democratic primary in South Carolina. That's what the Associated Press is projecting. You're listening to live Special Coverage from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin, broadcasting from the studios of South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia.
KHALID: And I'm Sarah McCammon. We are still waiting to hear from former Vice President Biden. He's expected to address supporters in South Carolina any moment now. And he'll be looking to reenergize his campaign with a victory speech just days before Super Tuesday. We're going to go now to another campaign, that of Bernie Sanders. My colleague correspondent Scott Detrow is in Virginia Beach with the Sanders campaign. And first of all, hello, Scott.
SCOTT DETROW (BYLINE): Hey, Sarah, from Virginia Beach. How's it going?
MARTIN: It's going well from Washington. Scott, let's get your take here first. What is your reaction to this win by former Vice President Biden?
DETROW: Well, this is really remarkable for Vice - former Vice President Joe Biden, as we've been discussing all night. This was really his last chance. His back was against the wall. He finished a disastrous fourth place in Iowa, fifth place in New Hampshire. And this is someone who based his entire campaign on the idea of electability. So now he has this big win in South Carolina. And this really does exactly what he needs to do. And that elevates him from this traffic jam of candidates - him, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg - and just - with just enough time before this race really goes national with 14 states voting on Tuesday. So that's the good news for Biden. The bad news is that he focused so much on South Carolina - really, with no other choice - that he has not been able to get to these Super Tuesday states as much to campaign. And he has not been able to spend the money and do the organization there to be ready to go and run a national election in just a few days.
KHALID: And as we said, Scott, you are with the Sanders campaign tonight. This is kind of the first one that Sanders hasn't won or had a, you know, close to a tie for first. Maybe they were expecting this. But how are they feeling about this result?
DETROW: I think the bigger roadblock for Bernie Sanders tonight is not the fact that he finished a distant second but the fact that Joe Biden finished so far ahead of him and everybody else, if that makes sense. Sanders really had moved on from South Carolina already. It was really notable to me. It's not that notable that candidates will be in other states on the day of the election, especially with another race just a few days away. But what was notable to me first in Boston, Mass., then in Virginia earlier today - Bernie Sanders did not mention South Carolina voting once at all. It was like it wasn't even happening. So his campaign has been focused on Super Tuesday, really, with this grueling schedule going to California, to Utah, to Minnesota, to Vermont in the next just day or so.
But I think he had benefited from such a traffic jam, as I said, of other candidates. If Joe Biden is viewed as the other candidate in the race, along with Sanders and Mike Bloomberg, I think that's tougher for Sanders because, as we've talked about, even as he's won big in Nevada and won in other states, if you add up all the votes going to the more moderate candidates, it really dwarfed the vote that Bernie Sanders is winning himself with his message.
KHALID: And, Scott, I'm in the studio here with our colleague Domenico Montanaro. He's got a question for you.
MARTIN: So, Scott, I'm sure that the Sanders campaign will say that he does pretty well with African American voters who are pretty young - under 45, for example. But we had Governor Jim Hodges - former Governor Jim Hodges on tonight. And he said that if Sanders does as poorly with African American voters as he looks to be doing tonight, quote, "how can he legitimately be our nominee?" And Biden won black voters tonight 60-17 over Sanders. You know, how does - how is his campaign responding to that?
DETROW: I haven't had a chance to talk to them about that yet since we've gotten the results. He just arrived at the venue. He was traveling from northern Virginia. That's something we will definitely be asking about if we get to have a chance to talk to Senator Sanders or his top advisers. I think what they would point to, as they've been pointing to in the last few days, maybe anticipating this result is how well they did with Latino voters in Nevada. They feel like that's a formula that they can repeat in Texas and California especially. Those are two states where Sanders has been campaigning a lot in. And you were talking about delegate - you know, delegate totals and running up delegate totals earlier, the Sanders campaign feels like these are the two biggest states in terms of raw numbers of delegates up at any given time, and they feel very confident that they can put up a big lead and that maybe only one or two other candidates would be over 15% with them. So they feel like that's a place where they can build their cushion in terms of delegates over the next few weeks.
LIASSON: You know...
KHALID: Mara has a very quick question for you, Scott.
LIASSON: Yeah, Scott, I have a question for you about Sanders supporters. It's interesting because in exit polls, we see a - very large numbers of Democrats say they'll support the nominee no matter who it is...
LIASSON: ...But smaller numbers of Sanders supporters saying they'll support the nominee even if it's not their first choice, Bernie Sanders.
DETROW: Yeah. That...
LIASSON: And that is what Democrats worry about, that Sanders supporters are not willing to stay inside the tent if Bernie is not the nominee.
KHALID: We've been talk...
DETROW: I mean, that is something that I have seen time and time again talking to people at Sanders rallies, compared to other rallies. Every other candidate, almost to a person - sure, I'll vote for anybody. With Sanders, there's often a long pause, even when you're asking, what if it was Elizabeth Warren? - someone who shares almost all of Bernie Sanders' agenda. They say, well, we'll see.
LIASSON: Yeah - Bernie Sanders not a Democrat, even to this day.
KHALID: And we're going to have to head back to South Carolina in just a second here. Thank you so much, Scott Detrow.
DETROW: Sure thing.
KHALID: That's Scott Detrow with the Bernie Sanders campaign in Virginia Beach. And we are going back to South Carolina now to my colleague Michel Martin.
MARTIN: Hi there. And we're going to speak with Reverend Leah Daughtry. She's a pastor in Washington, D.C. But for our purposes, she is a longtime Democratic strategist, the former chief executive officer of the 2016 and 2008 Democratic National Conventions. And she's a former DNC chief of staff. Reverend Daughtry, welcome back. Thanks so much for talking to us once again.
LEAH DAUGHTRY (DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST): Hi, Michel. Glad to be here.
MARTIN: And I do want to mention my colleague Ron Elving is here with us. And I'm going to apologize in advance because we are awaiting speeches from the candidates, and if they should appear...
DAUGHTRY: Yeah, so am I.
MARTIN: ...At the lecterns we - exactly - we will go to them. So we've talked earlier, after the New Hampshire primary night. And you've expressed your concern that the two earliest voting states are just not representative of the rest of the country. They don't - their electorates don't represent - as seriously as they take the process, and we know that they do, just not representative of the demographics of the rest of the country. So how are you feeling after tonight's results? Do you think that we're getting a clearer picture of a candidate who can really represent the country?
DAUGHTRY: Yeah. I think after Nevada and after tonight, we are seeing more of the Democratic electorate weighing in, particularly African American voters, and it's really going to - if this trajectory continues - expose the fault lines here about where our party is and who might be the ultimate nominee.
MARTIN: What are the fault lines? Talk a little bit more about that if you would.
DAUGHTRY: Well, you know, Senator Sanders has done fairly well in the first two primaries, and he's to be commended on those wins - well, at least one win, as tight as it is. But we couldn't get it here to South Carolina, and we see that he was unable to improve upon his margins from 2016, where he got 26% of the vote to Clinton's 74. And if this continues, then you have to wonder, can you - as Gov. Hodges said this evening, can you have a nominee of the party who is unable to attract the majority of the votes from the backbone of the party? And so does that become the fault line of which - are we going after base voters? Are we trying to attract who seems to be the Sanders coalition? And what does that mean if the convention is, in fact, brokered? And how do those lines fall?
BIDEN: Reverend, this is Ron Elving. My question is another fault line within the party, perhaps, and that is the group that Senator Sanders did so well with in Nevada; Latinos. And they were not really a factor here in South Carolina. But if Senator Sanders has shown strength among Latinos and we see Joe Biden still strong among African American voters, do we have something of a fault line developing there between those two groups?
DAUGHTRY: Yes, and that is certainly something I'd be concerned about it as the race continues to play out and we're getting ready to go to states like Texas and California, where the Latino vote is very strong. But at the same time, juxtapose that with Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, where the African American vote is very strong. So if those two communities appear to be at odds, then that is, in fact, I think, a fault line that we will have to work our way through as we get to Milwaukee.
MARTIN: Reverend Daughtry, as I said, I was going to apologize in advance. We are going to go in here - Senator Bernie Sanders, who's speaking to his supporters now in Virginia Beach.
(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)
MARTIN: We've been listening to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders talking to his supporters in Virginia Beach, Va. We're still hoping to hear from Joe Biden, the former vice president, who has projected to have won the South Carolina primary. I'm here with Ron Elving, my colleague, NPR's senior Washington editor. We're both here in Columbia, S.C. Ron, thoughts?
BIDEN: Good to be with you, Michel.
MARTIN: Good to be with you, too. So Bernie Sanders acknowledging that he didn't win this one...
MARTIN: ...Reminding his supporters that he's done pretty well so far, perhaps overstating the case just a bit since some of those were narrow. But the fact is he is the front-runner acknowledging that he didn't take this one. What else did he have to say?
BIDEN: It is fair to say that he blew it out in Nevada a week ago. But it is also fair to say that he got blown out tonight in South Carolina. Right now we have about a quarter of the vote tabulated. And Joe Biden's lead is running north of 40 points, more than 40 points. This is truly a across-the-board triumph for Biden. He's winning in every category. He's not just winning in the most important category, which would be African American women, which he's dominating in. But he's also winning among African American men. He's winning among white people and so forth.
The only group in which he is not dominant is the youngest voters, the people under 30 and the people that, right at this very moment, Senator Sanders is singing his song to there in Virginia, where he's talking about how they should join his movement and how they are the most progressive generation in American history. And all that is true. And all that has been enormously effective for him.
MARTIN: But it is interesting to say we don't seem to have seen here - at least in South Carolina - this surge of younger voters that have - at least had been in the polls. They've been very dominant in the polls. But we haven't really seen that here in South Carolina. Any thoughts about that?
BIDEN: The exit polls we're seeing here are showing only about 10% of the vote cast by people under 30 - under 30 - and almost three times that much of the vote being cast by people over 65. Now, some of that reflects the vote of the black community. But it also reflects the vote of the white community, as well. So here in South Carolina, the youth movement did not happen the way that it did in Nevada and to some degree in New Hampshire and Iowa for Bernie Sanders.
Now, the big question is, how much are these states that are voting on Tuesday, particularly the six in the south, going to replicate what we saw in Iowa and New Hampshire? How much are they going to replicate what we saw in Nevada? We may see that in the Latino community that votes on Tuesday. And how much are they going to be reflective of the kind of black vote we saw here in South Carolina?
MARTIN: OK. But another pain point for Joe Biden, who - clearly the victor here but still lost white voters without a college degree.
BIDEN: That's right.
MARTIN: And that is a group that Joe Biden has promised he would do well with. Any thoughts about that?
BIDEN: That is a group that Joe Biden used to do well with and has done well with in his Delaware constituency back when he was running for the Senate. And in some respects, it was what he was aiming for when he ran for president in 1988 and in 2008. Those were the voters that he thought he was going to be able to get. He was supposed to be Scranton Joe - that's where he comes from originally - Scranton, Pa. And he was seen to be a man with a strong appeal to blue-collar voters. That has been, to some degree, sacrificed by his many years in the Senate, his years as vice president and his representation of Barack Obama.
So now he is not seen as the hero of the white working class, particularly in the age of Bernie Sanders on the left and Donald Trump on the right - two people who might be considered a little bit unlikely as champions of the blue-collar class compared to Joe Biden - but who have emerged as its champions and been embraced by them.
And both of those two candidates, I might add - Trump and Sanders - have a tremendous amount of what we used to call populist appeal. And that's a word that's come back around into our political language. They keep the message very simple. They drive it home with very effective repetition. And people know where they stand on a handful of issues. They go back to those issues again and again and cling to them. And there is no question that it works.
MARTIN: I'm here with my colleague Ron Elving, NPR senior Washington editor. But we're both here in Columbia, S.C. We're going to head back to our studios in Washington, D.C., and my colleague Sarah McCammon. Sarah?
KHALID: Hi, Michel. Good evening. And we want to talk now with our two correspondents who are with these two campaigns that we've been talking about so much - Scott Detrow, NPR political correspondent, following Bernie Sanders in Virginia Beach. Hi, Scott.
DETROW: Hey there.
KHALID: And Asma Khalid, NPR political correspondent, with the Biden campaign in South Carolina. Hi, Asma.
LAKE: Hey there.
KHALID: So, Scott, I want to go back to you. We just heard Sanders' speech. We heard him say nobody wins them all, acknowledging that Biden had this big win in South Carolina tonight. What's the mood like in that room where you are?
DETROW: The mood is pretty defiant and ready to move on to Virginia. You heard that, when Sanders made that point, saying, I effectively kind of won the first state but not really. I won the next two states, but you can't win them all. There were some polite, tepid cheers for Joe Biden. But then when he said that it's on to Virginia and Super Tuesday, huge roars. He has been getting enormous crowds the last few days, the last few locations today.
And I feel like his base, it's a mix of defiance, saying - it's almost a mood, when you talk to supporters, of, you didn't think we could do this. We're going to do this. We think Bernie Sanders is going to be the nominee for the Democratic Party. And also, more - I asked people what's the difference between 2016 and 2020. And they say, I just feel more optimistic. I feel more excited. I feel like there's more of a chance. I never really feel like he had a chance in 2016.
KHALID: And, Asma, you're there with the Sanders campaign and - or I'm sorry - with the Biden campaign in South Carolina. Is everybody there kind of breathing a sigh of relief after this win?
LAKE: Yeah, and they're really excited. In fact, Joe Biden is going to take the stage shortly. But right now, in fact, who's warming the crowd up is Congressman Jim Clyburn. And, you know, that's a notable point because we've seen from the exit polls that about half of voters said Clyburn's endorsement was an important factor in their vote.
KHALID: Right. And we were talking earlier with Domenico Montanaro about that and about just sort of the indecisiveness among a lot of Democratic voters. I'm here with Domenico and with Mara Liasson in the studio. As you're listening to these speeches, what are you noticing? What are you looking for?
MARTIN: Well, you heard Bernie Sanders just now. At least, you know, he was mentioning that he won the first few states but that he was acknowledging that he lost tonight. And I think that the margin he lost by with black voters is certainly eye-opening, just as it was eye-opening how much he won Hispanic voters by in Nevada. I think that's an important factor.
Now, Sanders is also correct and his campaign are correct that he's investing pretty heavily on Super Tuesday - $15.5 million or more - with the bulk of that money going toward California and Texas. And those are huge states and important states because they have more than 600 delegates, almost half of all the delegates on Super Tuesday in just those two states. And guess who's not on the air at all in California? - Joe Biden.
LIASSON: Because Joe Biden not only lost the first two states badly, but he - the reason he did is because he couldn't raise very much money. And he couldn't perform very well on the stump. Those two things haven't changed. We'll see if this win in South Carolina does change that. But the other thing that Bernie Sanders said in his speech tonight, which was in Virginia Beach, Va. - obviously, he's moved on - was that we need this massive turnout among young people.
And he acknowledged the young generation doesn't turn out to vote. And that is what we've been waiting for. Bernie Sanders' argument for why he's electable is that he can make this massive turnout of new voters. And we just haven't seen that in any of the states that have voted so far.
MARTIN: And, you know, what's fascinating - right now on the stage, who's speaking for Joe Biden before the former vice president comes out is Jim Clyburn, the congressman from South Carolina who was an important factor this week in Biden's win in South Carolina. When we looked at the exit polls, it showed that a significant number of people said that Clyburn's endorsement was an important factor in their vote. And for those who it was very important to, Biden got the overwhelming share of the vote from them.
So when we keep hearing from people who've come on our air saying, you know, that they were not sure about Biden, they maybe were there but weren't quite convinced - that 24 hours between the debate and Clyburn's endorsement, I think, made a huge difference here. But if Biden can mete this out into Super Tuesday is going to be the real question.
KHALID: I want to go back to you, Asma. You're with the Biden campaign. What does Biden need to do or want to do to capitalize on this win tonight?
LAKE: I mean, the major thing he needs to do, I think, is twofold. One is they need a boost in fundraising, which he has said earlier this week, that they were - they did see an increase in fundraising after the debate and after that endorsement from Jim Clyburn. They need more money, though. I mean, they are competing against both Mike Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders, who have put millions of dollars' worth of investment in ads in all 14 states voting on Super Tuesday. Last we checked with the advertising analytics firm Ad Analytics, Biden was focused only on about half a dozen of those states, largely Southern states with sizable African American populations.
He needs to be competing more aggressively. So I would say fundraising is, first of all, what he needs. But secondly, he needs momentum. And I think, you know, the difficulty for him right now is this is Saturday. And Super Tuesday is just three days away. And so while this will give him a boost, a number of voters in some of those Super Tuesday states have already been voting. Early voting has already been underway in those places. And a candidate like Bernie Sanders has had a pretty robust grassroots operation for months at this point in a state like California.
KHALID: And, Scott Detrow, we heard Senator Sanders, a moment ago, say that there are lots of states. And while he didn't win in South Carolina, there are lots of states. What are you looking for from Sanders? As he looks ahead to Super Tuesday, what's his strategy?
DETROW: His strategy is to win in California and win in Texas. And those are the two biggest states, obviously, the two biggest delegate prizes. The campaign feels like he has a chance to be viable, get over that 15% margin in every state on the ballot on Tuesday. Their argument is that it's hard for a lot of the other candidates to get there as well. He's also on the ballot in Vermont. In 2016, he won Vermont by a massive margin against Hillary Clinton. He has a chance to possibly be the only viable candidate if everything goes well in Vermont and get some delegates there. I think what's really remarkable is that two of the first four early states you saw real shifts in the last few days - New Hampshire and here in South Carolina. Biden solidifying, Amy Klobuchar surging - this is such a dynamic race.
KHALID: All right. Scott, I'm going to stop you there. It looks like former Vice President Joe Biden is about to make a speech in South Carolina. He is - Asma, can you tell us what you're seeing?
LAKE: Yeah. Joe Biden is walking up. And the crowd here is really enthusiastic. I mean, they are excited. They have been waiting for a win. Joe Biden is somebody who had been struggling in these early primaries. And, frankly, this is a man who has run for president three times. This is his first win in a primary caucus. And people are - here are excited. This is so much different than the atmosphere I felt, you know, at his Iowa sort of - I don't know if I'd call it a celebration victory party. But it was at his Iowa party after the caucuses there. People here feel that this win was important, even if it was expected. It was a win that he needed in order to carry him on with some potential viability into those Super Tuesday states.
KHALID: Because this is a big night - and it is an actual victory for him and a victory party. We're talking with NPR's Asma Khalid, who's with the Biden campaign. He's about to speak in South Carolina, having just won the South Carolina Democratic primary. And, Asma, tell us more about - it looks like the crowd is really excited right now.
LAKE: Yeah. That's right. And he's just kicking off his remarks.
(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)
KHALID: This is live Special Coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary from NPR News. I'm Sarah McCammon. We're going to talk now with two of my colleagues, NPR senior political editor correspondent Domenico Montanaro and NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson, both in the studio here. Hello.
MARTIN: Hey there.
KHALID: So we just listened to Biden's speech from South Carolina, where he won the primary. Domenico, your reaction - what did you notice?
MARTIN: A funny thing happens when you win. You suddenly sound really good. You sound energetic.
KHALID: Sound excited.
MARTIN: This was, I think, hands down - and Mara can agree or disagree with me - the best speech Joe Biden has given this entire campaign. You know, he's given a lot of speeches. And a lot of the criticism of him on the campaign trail is that he's been incoherent one way or another. Or he hasn't quite had - you know, finished his thoughts during debates, you know? This was not that. He looked and sounded like somebody who I think a lot of, you know, establishment Democrats who'd been wringing their hands could see as their nominee.
LIASSON: Yeah. And, you know, this is the kind of speech that Joe Biden did used to give. He was always a good podium speaker. He read from a teleprompter tonight. That makes a big difference.
LIASSON: There's no harm in doing that if you're not a good improviser. And he's not. You know, usually...
MARTIN: But he likes to do it a lot.
LIASSON: Yes, he does.
LIASSON: He likes to. But it often comes off as meandering, incoherent and gives voters the impression that he's past it, you know, that he's too old to do this. But tonight, he was firing on all cylinders. He was delivering the message, which is not only that he can win because he can put together a broad coalition but that he can restore the soul of the nation, decency, unity, all the things that he says Donald Trump has undermined. And he also put in some policy. Why is he running? Because he wants to restore, you know, the middle class. He wants to combat climate change. He wants to fully fund education. I mean, you know, this was a speech for Democrats. And he did, in an indirect way, say, we need to have an actual Democrat - Bernie Sanders is not one - at the top of the ticket.
MARTIN: Look. You know, right from the beginning, he sort of ripped the mask off in the sense that he's been in - the entire time running against Bernie Sanders.
MARTIN: I mean, the very first campaign event that he did, which was a well-put-on event in Philadelphia - I was there. And pretty clearly, Joe Biden said - well, there was a guy whistling behind him. And he said, what was that? Bernie or somebody back there? And his campaign was insistent he didn't say Bernie. He said burning.
MARTIN: And no matter how many times I listened to that speech, he said Bernie. And...
KHALID: But it was hard to miss tonight when he said, if you want to nominate a Democrat, he was a Democrat, right?
MARTIN: And how many times did he say revolution?
MARTIN: Saying - correct.
LIASSON: A promise of a revolution as opposed to results - you know, we can build on Obamacare, not throw it in the trash can. That wasn't exactly his words. But it was something like that because that's what Bernie wants to do. He wants to get rid of Obamacare and start new with mandatory Medicare for All.
MARTIN: Look. Nothing...
LIASSON: Look. If he can do this...
LIASSON: ...Over and over and over again and his campaign can raise money in a hurry, maybe...
MARTIN: It might have a chance.
MARTIN: Look. Nothing...
LIASSON: It still is very daunting.
LIASSON: The path ahead of him is very daunting.
MARTIN: Nothing focuses the mind than an opponent, right? And I think that he's run in a lot of different directions during this campaign. And maybe now, given this size of this win, if the donors that he's been trying to court who've maybe been hesitant to come to him can, you know, fill his coffers, you know, get in with that campaign...
LIASSON: We have about five minutes to do that.
MARTIN: They've got about five minutes to do it because he's probably still - he's still at a very large disadvantage, which is Super Tuesday.
LIASSON: Yes, very large.
MARTIN: He's got to basically hope to, you know, stem the bleeding that happens on Super Tuesday. And maybe this helped do some of that.
LIASSON: Yeah. And, you know, let's be honest. His campaign likes to say, well, the reason he didn't do well is because Iowa, New Hampshire are 91 and 93% white.
LIASSON: It's not diverse. It doesn't represent the Democratic Party. But that's not why he did poorly in those states. He did poorly in those states because he couldn't raise money or perform on the stump.
KHALID: And I want to go back to our colleagues who are following these campaigns. Asma Khalid is in the room with the Biden campaign in South Carolina, just watched that speech. Asma, what does the Biden campaign need to do? And what is their strategy going into Super Tuesday?
ASMA KHALID (BYLINE): Well, I think we saw a glimpse of what Joe Biden himself as a candidate needs to do, and that is have these really energetic, on-point messages as he delivered tonight. You know, this was a really succinct speech. I think I timed it out to be around 10 minutes. That's not what Joe Biden delivers on the campaign trail. You know, he is known to deliver these kind of meandering speeches. He can, you know, go ahead and answer a voter question, and it'll take him, say, 20 minutes. And that, sometimes, has led to voters telling me that they worry about him being sort of old and maybe not fit for the presidency. Tonight, we saw no glimpse of that. And the crowd was extremely energetic.
And in addition to all of that, I think he delivered, pretty succinctly, why he feels like he would be the best candidate. He said specifically, if you're, you know, a voter who's going to vote on Super Tuesday - he delivered a message to those people and said that if you want a Democrat, you know, essentially, that you should vote for him. That was an oblique reference to his primary opponent at this point, who is Bernie Sanders.
MARTIN: And Scott Detrow is with the Sanders campaign in Virginia, where Sanders is looking ahead to Super Tuesday. Scott, what's your sense of how Sanders' campaign and his supporters are feeling? Do they see tonight as a setback?
SCOTT DETROW (BYLINE): I don't think so. Again, I don't think - this was the one state - if you looked at what the campaign was telling us and if you looked at how Bernie Sanders talked about it before voting began, he was predicting a win in Iowa. He was predicting a win in New Hampshire. He was predicting a win in Nevada. In South Carolina, it was never that quite clear. For a moment, when Joe Biden seemed to be teetering on the brink, you did see the Sanders campaign add a bunch of events, suddenly feel like they can maybe pull off some sort of upset here and force Biden out of the race. But that thinking quickly went away, and instead, you saw them going back to the original plan all along, which was to focus on Super Tuesday.
You know, the electability conversation, which has dominated the race all year among the voters - it's something that you've heard Sanders lean into a little more lately. One thing he's been pointing to is a handful of polls that came out in those states that are critical for Democrats to retake the White House; states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Two polls from very reputable pollsters came out this week showing Bernie Sanders ahead of Donald Trump in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and no other Democratic candidate ahead of Trump. They were either tied or behind.
Now, all of these were within the margin of error because these states are going to be tight no matter what. But Sanders is making the argument - and there is an increasing amount of polls to show it up - to back him up, saying that if you want the candidate who can beat Donald Trump, it's not Joe Biden. It's Bernie Sanders.
MARTIN: OK. That's Scott Detrow with the Sanders campaign. I want to go quickly to Juana Summers. Of course, there are other candidates besides Sanders and Biden in this race. And, Juana, you've been with Steyer campaign the past few days, I think. What are you hearing there?
JUANA SUMMERS (BYLINE): That's right. We are yet to hear from Tom Steyer tonight. We're here at his election night event in Columbia, S.C. Our colleague Sam Gringlas and I have been out talking to voters. They are still very - they're very excited. They're looking forward to the future. They have yet to hear from this candidate. He's someone who staked his entire campaign on this state, spent aggressively for the black vote here. And it looks like, depending on what happens as we see more results unfold - could have made that huge investment and come away without delegates in this hunt. That is, obviously, not the result he wanted to see.
I asked him earlier today how he felt about his place in the race. He told me he felt good. He felt like they left it all on the ground here, that he had invested heavily in the state. They're looking forward to continuing ahead, going to Selma this weekend. So we're still waiting to hear how he spends these results to his supporters and what he'll say tonight.
MARTIN: And what are you hearing from people in the room there? Are they - are these hardcore Steyer supporters? Or are they just sort of - what are you hearing from them about the state of the race?
SUMMERS: These are not the Steyer curious. These are hardcore Steyer supporters. These are people who had no doubt in him. One of the things I've been struck with in covering this campaign for some time is that when you talk to people who support Tom Steyer, there are people who have met him three, four and five times, not just in big population centers but in small towns across the state. They feel like they've made personal connections with him. They have been all in.
I was at a phone bank earlier tonight, where even early this evening, people were still on the phones, really committed to this cause. They say that they are still excited. They're still very committed. But obviously, they hoped for a different outcome, perhaps even a win.
MARTIN: That's NPR's Juana Summers. We're going to go now back to my colleague Michel Martin, who's in South Carolina as well. Michel, good to talk with you.
MICHEL MARTIN (BYLINE): Oh, good to talk with you, too. As we close in on this - the close of our evening here in South Carolina, I'm here with Ron Elving, my colleague, NPR's senior Washington editor. And I'm going to go now to Celinda Lake and Whit Ayres. Celinda Lake, of course, is a Democratic pollster. She has done some polling work for the Biden campaign, we are told. Although - I just want to emphasize - she is not now speaking on behalf of the campaign. And Whit Ayres is a Republican pollster at North Star Opinion Research.
Thank you both so much for joining us once again, as you have on so many nights.
CELINDA LAKE (DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER): Thank you for having us.
WHIT AYRES (REPUBLICAN POLLSTER, NORTH STAR OPINION RESEARCH): Good to be with you.
MARTIN: All right. So let's start with Celinda Lake. Celinda Lake, what are you seeing in the results so far?
LAKE: Well, the magnitude of the win - it's just really, really impressive. And I think that this gives a lot of momentum going into Super Tuesday. There are a lot - of course, it's not whole states. It's markets and congressional districts that determine delegates. And there are a lot of congressional districts that have the diversity that South Carolina represents, so I think there's an ability to really appeal very strongly.
I think that Joe Biden also laid out a very strong message here - results versus revolution. And for a Democratic electorate that is completely focused on beating Donald Trump and getting Democratic initiatives passed, that was very strong.
MARTIN: And my colleague Mara Liasson said that this was a speech - Joe Biden's speech was aimed at Democrats. I think I heard something a little bit different, Whit Ayres. I think I heard him also say that if you are tired of the divisiveness that - what he called the meanness that many people associate with the Trump administration, with Donald Trump in particular as a political figure, he's saying, you know, you have a place with him. Whit Ayres, is there any evidence that there are Republican voters who could be persuaded to look at a Democratic candidate if it's the right candidate?
AYRES: Of course there are. There's about 15% of Republicans that disapprove of the president's job performance, and that's a whole lot of votes if you run it nationally. But welcome to the best night of Joe Biden's political life, which has extended for decades. This result totally resets the race. The fact that Joe Biden won big and the result was clear early in the evening during prime time in the Eastern time zone provides an enormous boost to his campaign. If Joe Biden can ultimately defeat Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, we will look back on this night as a key moment in American political history.
MARTIN: Ron Elving.
RON ELVING (BYLINE): But this is Ron Elving with - looking at these big states that are coming up on Tuesday - California and Texas and then later on Florida and New York. These are all places where Bernie Sanders is looking pretty strong. We might see something of a different result in Illinois, but the big states seem to be lining up with Bernie Sanders. Doesn't that make it an awfully tall order to stop him either in the primaries to come or at the convention?
AYRES: No, Ron, you're right. It is a tall order. And we need to keep in mind that many people have already voted in the Super Tuesday states.
AYRES: But this margin in South Carolina is enough to generate a number of important endorsements tomorrow - we've already heard a couple today - and a lot of contributions for Joe Biden. So I think this becomes a far more competitive race. And who knows what this effect will have three days from now in the Super Tuesday states? It bears remembering that at least six of them are in the south - Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia - where Biden will likely do very well and where Sanders has historically done very poorly. So there are a lot of states that are set up for him for Super Tuesday as well as Bernie Sanders.
ELVING: Do we think that there is...
LAKE: I think that the other thing I would add is nobody takes the whole state unless no candidate gets - other candidate gets 15%. So you can still rack up delegates in some of these other places. And I think what Democrats are going to be looking at on Super Tuesday is not only who's winning the progressive base of the Democratic Party - the San Franciscos, the Austins - but who's winning in West Texas? Who's winning in Fresno, where Democrats have to compete in November?
ELVING: Celinda, do you think this is now a two-person race and some of these other candidates should just drop out?
LAKE: Well, no. I can't tell anybody to drop out, but I think it is fast emerging as a two-person race. I think the thing that is hard to tell is what's going to happen with Bloomberg's money. We've never had anybody that can spend $2 billion, so I don't know if that gives you lasting power. But I think it's very interesting that the Bloomberg campaign has bought through Super Tuesday but not bought a lot beyond that.
MARTIN: All right. We have to leave it there for now. Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, Whit Ayres, Republican pollster, thank you so much for hanging in there through this evening, and we appreciate you. And you've been listening to Special Coverage of the South Carolina primary from NPR News. The Associated Press is projecting victory for Joe Biden. Just a short while ago, the former vice president took the stage in Columbia, S.C., to address supporters.
(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)
JOE BIDEN (DEM PRES CAND): I told y'all you could launch a candidacy. You launched Bill Clinton, Barack Obama to the presidency. Now you launched our campaign on the path to defeating Donald Trump.
MARTIN: Biden used his victory speech to take some digs at his biggest rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders.
(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)
BIDEN: If Democrats want to nominate someone who will build on Obamacare, not scrap it...
BIDEN: ...Take on the NRA and gun manufacturers, not protect them...
BIDEN: ...Stand up and give the poor a fighting chance and the middle class get restored, not raise their taxes and make - keep the promises we make, then join us. And if the Democrats want a nominee who's a Democrat...
BIDEN: ...A lifelong Democrat, a proud Democrat, an Obama-Biden Democrat...
MARTIN: That was Joe Biden in Columbia, S.C., tonight. And this is what Senator Bernie Sanders had to say to his supporters this evening in Virginia Beach.
(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)
BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT, SEN/DEM PRES CAND): Now, I am very proud that in this campaign so far, we have won the popular vote in Iowa.
SANDERS: We have won the New Hampshire primary.
SANDERS: We have won the Nevada caucus.
SANDERS: But you cannot win them all. A lot of states out there - and tonight, we did not win in South Carolina.
MARTIN: And we'll have to leave it there. Thanks so much to all the correspondents who've been with us this evening. You've been listening to live Special Coverage from NPR News. Thanks to Domenico Montanaro, NPR's senior political correspondent; Mara Liasson, NPR national political correspondent; Ron Elving, NPR senior Washington editor/correspondent; Scott Detrow, NPR political correspondent and Asma Khalid, also political correspondent. And I want to say we have some news. Billionaire Tom Steyer has dropped out of the race. We also want to thank several more of our colleagues. Michel Martin, I'll let you take it from here.
MARTIN: I'll pick it up from there - Scott Huffmon, political science professor and polling director at Winthrop University, was with us earlier, and Brian Naylor, NPR Washington correspondent; Susan Davis, NPR congressional correspondent; Juana Summers, NPR political correspondent; Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR political correspondent; Pam Fessler, NPR reporter. Thanks also to South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia, S.C., where we have been all day today and all week, in fact.
MARTIN: And I'm Sarah McCammon. This has been Special Coverage from NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF ALARMIST'S "CARPARK SHOWDOWN")
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