The president triumphed in South Carolina, but the low voter turnout is worrying.
The local polling stations were closed only 20 minutes when the winner was already apparent: Joe Biden easily won the first Democratic primary in South Carolina. With around 96% of the votes, the incumbent president literally pulverized both of his two Democratic Party challengers in the race for the presidential nomination.
This is the first result of a Saturday evening: the Democratic primaries are over even faster than Republican primaries. The Democratic Party is rallying around the man who defeated Donald Trump four years ago, and their candidate is Biden. Despite his age and poor poll ratings, no internal party heavyweight challenged the president from the start. There is no need to remember the names of two bizarre outsider candidates.
A Broad Alliance Is Necessary
But this is exactly the risk of Biden’s bid for a second term in office: the 81-year-old has triumphed, relatively speaking, in a contest against two nobodies. But Biden is up against the world’s most relentless populist and his loyal and highly mobilized supporters in November. Biden can only defeat Trump if he attracts a broad alliance of liberal and left-leaning voters to the ballot box in large numbers.
However, enthusiasm for the president among Black voters has noticeably declined. Many Americans are suffering from inflation and personally feel little of the positive economic results. Many left-leaning Americans and Americans of Arab descent are turning away from Biden because of his pro-Israel policies. In this context, the low voter turnout in South Carolina is a warning signal.
No Real Contest This Time
Four years ago, when there was a real competition among serious contenders including the liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders and a young hopeful Pete Buttigieg, more than half a million people voted in South Carolina. This time, there were only around 130,000 voters. Enthusiasm looks different now.
Of course, we can’t simply extrapolate this number to November’s general election. Biden has only just begun his campaign. It will probably only become clear to many people in the next few months what the concrete alternative would mean. However, we would sleep more soundly if Biden would soon give Americans a few concise reasons why they need to leave the house on Nov. 5, regardless of bad weather, stand in line and cast their vote – not just against Trump, but for Biden.