Ironically, a big Biden victory in South Carolina could actually have the net effect of helping Bernie Sanders, his key rival for the nomination.
Sanders’ challenge is not just to win primaries but to do so by big enough margins as to help him win a first ballot majority at the convention.
The key to his doing so is to reduce the number of candidates in the field.
With only two candidates, of course, a plurality is a majority.
But, as the number of candidates increases, it is more and more difficult to breach 50 percent.
A Biden victory in South Carolina is also likely to hurt the campaigns of Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar significantly.
Weak finishes in South Carolina so soon before Super Tuesday could dramatically undermine their support as voters decide that backing them is futile.
Some of their support on Super Tuesday may go to Sanders, putting him closer to 50 percent.
Some of these voters won’t back Bernie, but enough may to bring him closer to a majority.
More will likely just stay home, having the same net positive effect for Sanders.
A Biden surge will also weaken Bloomberg and Warren, of course, but their candidacies can handle a drop better than the more fragile campaigns of Buttigieg and Klobuchar.
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