South Carolina polls set to close as Biden hopes to rebound in 2020 primary

Image: Voters will head to the polls in the South Carolina Democratic prima
Voters will head to the polls in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Feb. 29, 2020. Copyright Chelsea Stahl NBC News
By Alex Seitz-Wald with NBC News Politics
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Bernie Sanders has pulled into the lead nationally, but the former VP is hoping his strength with black voters could give him a boost.

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CHARLESTON, S.C. - Voting is underway in South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary, where Joe Biden is hoping a big victory on Saturday will revive his flagging presidential campaign ahead of Super Tuesday next week.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has pulled into the lead nationally after strong showings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, but Biden is counting on support among black voters, who are expected to make up around 60 percent of the turnout Saturday, to put him back into the running.

Polls close at 7 p.m. ET.

Biden and California billionaire Tom Steyer, who is an unlikely frontrunner in South Carolina after spending millions of dollars to build a more robust campaign operation here than anyone else in the field, are the only candidates who will remain in the state to watch results come in. The other candidates have moved on to Super Tuesday states.

Biden received a late boost from Rep. Jim Clyburn, the most powerful Democrat in South Carolina, has been drawing larger crowds, and appearing more upbeat in recent days as he stumped here.

Sanders is looking well positioned heading into Super Tuesday, but Biden's team is hoping South Carolina will provide much-needed momentum and offer a roadmap for his path forward, especially in states with similarly large black populations, such as Arkansas and North Carolina, that vote Tuesday.

Biden and Sanders will both have to contend with Mike Bloomberg, however, who skipped the four early contests, but has climbed in polls nationally after spending more than half a billion dollars of his own money to run ads in states that vote throughout March, when the majority of delegates will be up for grabs.

The rest of the field, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, have not invested as heavily in South Carolina, a sign of their struggle with black voters here and elsewhere.

They'll all be in Super Tuesday states Saturday night when the results come in here. Warren will be campaigning in Texas, while Buttigieg will be in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Klobuchar will be in Maine. Sanders, after holding a massive rally in Warren's backyard of Boston on Saturday afternoon, will finish the day in Virginia.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump held a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, that drew thousands Friday night as part of his ongoing effort to counter-program the Democrats.

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