South Carolina Democratic primary turnout for 2024 and how it compares to previous years

Washington — President Biden cruised to an easy victory Saturday in South Carolina’s Democratic primary as the incumbent facing two long-shot candidates, winning about 96% of the vote. But for voters in the Palmetto State, which marked the beginning of the Democratic primary nominating calendar this year, turnout was exceedingly low. 

South Carolina primary voter turnout for 2024

Around 131,000 South Carolinians voted in the 2024 Democratic primary, making up just around 4% of registered voters statewide. The showing marks the lowest turnout in the last few presidential primaries for Democrats, though those contests were notably more competitive. 

How does 2024 South Carolina Democrat turnout compare to previous years?

Turnout for this year’s Democratic primary fell well below previous contests. In 2020, 540,000 people — around 16% of voters — participated in the Democratic primary, while in 2016, 373,063 — more than 12% — did the same. In 2012, former President Barack Obama ran unopposed in the primary, but in 2008, 532,151 turned out, accounting for around 23% of registered voters, according to the South Carolina Election Commission.

A person votes at a polling location in February 3, 2024, in West Columbia, South Carolina during the South Carolina Democratic Primary. 

ALLISON JOYCE/AFP via Getty Images

How many delegates did Biden get in South Carolina?

CBS News projects Mr. Biden will win all 55 pledged delegates at stake in the state’s primary, defeating Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and self-help author Marianne Williamson, as was expected for the current president facing party opposition only from long-shot candidates. 

Still, the South Carolina primary was expected to be an indicator of the president’s support among Black voters, who helped revive Biden’s 2020 campaign after underwhelming performances in earlier state primaries. 

Why was the South Carolina Democratic primary so early this year?

While the state has been fourth among nominating contests in previous years, occurring on the same day as the Republican primary, the Democratic National Committee moved South Carolina’s primary to the top of the calendar this year, citing the Palmetto State’s more racially diverse electorate that’s more representative of the country more broadly. Even so, New Hampshire defied the move by holding its first-in-the-nation primary, as is tradition, last month, though Mr. Biden did not appear on the ballot. 

When is the Republican South Carolina primary?

The state’s GOP primary is set for Feb. 24, falling in the traditional order of state primaries. The contest has been billed as a major test for former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who served as the state’s governor from 2011 to 2017, as she tries to make inroads despite former President Donald Trump’s dominance in the race so far. 

For the Republican primary, early voting begins on Feb. 12 and ends Feb. 22, with polls open on Feb. 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Polling places will be open from from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the day of the primary. 

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