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Joe Biden wins crucial victory in South Carolina but will it save his campaign?

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Joe Biden wins crucial victory in South Carolina but will it save his campaign?
Copyright  AP Photo/Gerald Herbert   -   Gerald Herbert
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Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden won a large victory in South Carolina's Democratic primary giving the candidate a boost that could help to save a campaign that underperformed in previous races.

The former vice president won roughly 48% of the vote, pushing him closer to the current frontrunner, self-declared democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.

Biden's win came at a perilous moment during his bid to face off against current US President Donald Trump after underwhelming performances this month in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

"We are very much alive", Biden declared as he spoke to supporters after the race.

"For all of you who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind: this is your campaign".

Bernie Sanders claimed a distant second place with roughly 20% of the share. Sanders congratulated Biden on his first win and said it was nothing for his supporters to worry about.

"That will not be the only defeat. A lot of states in this country. Nobody wins them all," he told a cheering crowd in Virginia. "Now we enter Super Tuesday."

Fourteen states, including the two most populous, California and Texas, will vote on Tuesday. The race is sure to thin out the primary even more.

Already, the vote in South Carolina prompted billionaire Tom Steyer to drop out of the primary.

A crucial win, but will it be enough?

Biden, who served two terms as Barack Obama's vice president, won 60% of the African American vote, according to the Associated Press, while rival Sanders received 15% of the vote.

Many observers in the United States have said that winning the African-American vote in the country is key to performing well in the national election.

"Candidates increase their chances of winning the presidency by taking the long-range approach of energising Black voters in the country’s rapidly growing Black-majority cities—especially in swing states—rather than simply winning big early," Andre Perry and David Harshbarger wrote in a Brookings Institution piece ahead of the primary.

Yet even with the victory, the shortcomings of Biden's campaign remain, including a lack of robust funding and organisation.

This week he will also face for the first time former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who has spent more than $500 million (€456 million) advertising in the Super Tuesday states.

Bloomberg announced his plan to deliver a three-minute prime-time address Sunday night on two television networks. He didn't say how much he paid for the air time, which is unprecedented in recent decades.

Biden is barely running any television advertising in Super Tuesday states. And both Sanders and Bloomberg have many more staff and volunteers.

Seven candidates remain in the Democrats' quest to find the strongest possible nominee to take on President Donald Trump in November. They spent Saturday assessing the impact of Biden's win.

Aides to Bloomberg's campaign said they still believe the former New York mayor can win in a handful of states that vote on Super Tuesday, including Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Virginia and North Carolina.

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez cautioned Democrats that it's still early in their presidential primary.

Speaking at a North Carolina Democratic Party fundraising gala, Perez noted that to win the nomination, a Democrat must win 1,991 delegates and only a fraction of those have been allocated in the party's first four primaries.

"We have a long way to go," he said.

The contest wraps up in June and the Democratic party will hold a large gathering in late summer to officially nominate the candidate with the most delegates.