Joe Biden prepares for must-win South Carolina debate

The US Democratic Party will hold its 10th primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina tonight, the last before the state

south carolina debate

Photo: Ruth Fremson/NYT

The US Democratic Party will hold its 10th primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina tonight, the last before the state votes on Saturday and before more than a third of Democratic National Convention delegates are determined in next week’s Super Tuesday.

The fight for the Democratic nomination has thus far been tumultuous, with Vermont’s democratic socialist, anti-establishment Senator Bernie Sanders now leading the race after major victories in the states of New Hampshire and Nevada earlier this month.

A strong debate performance tonight and an upset in South Carolina for former vice president Joe Biden—who has long been expected to be the victor in this state—could propel Sanders toward total victory on Super Tuesday. Yet Sanders’s path to the nomination will not be settled if he falls short of the 3,979 delegates needed for a majority at the convention.

Should Sanders fail to win a majority of delegates, leaders of the Democratic Party will face a crossroads: gamble on Sanders’s brand of populism or push forward a more moderate candidate, such as Biden, or possibly former South Bend, Indiana mayor Peter Buttigieg. Even in the event that Sanders secures a majority, Democratic voters opposed to the Vermont firebrand will still have to decide for whom to pledge their support.

In any case, a contested convention will likely see a clash between the so-called “establishment” base of the party and the “outsider”, more left-wing movement led by Senator Sanders.

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