COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — President Joe Biden has won South Carolina’s Democratic primary, notching an overwhelming 2024 victory in the state that vaulted him to the White House four years ago.

Biden on Saturday defeated the other long-shot Democrats on South Carolina’s ballot, including Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips and author Marianne Williamson.

The president’s campaign had invested heavily in driving up turnout for Biden, aiming to test-drive efforts to mobilize Black voters, who are a key part of the Democratic vote in South Carolina and central to Biden’s strategy for victory in November.

Biden’s win comes in a state that he and other party leaders had recommended lead off the party’s 2024 primary calendar. In picking South Carolina, they cited the state’s far more racially diverse population compared to the traditional first-in-the-nation states of Iowa and New Hampshire, which are overwhelmingly white.

In defiance of the Democratic National Committee, New Hampshire held a leadoff primary last month anyway. But without the president’s or the national party’s backing and no delegates officially at stake, the contest was nonbinding. Biden still won New Hampshire by a sizable margin after supporters mounted a write-in campaign on his behalf.

South Carolina, where Biden has long held deep relationships with supporters and donors, also played a pivotal role in his 2020 campaign, where a big win helped revive a flagging effort in other early-voting states and propelled him to the nomination.

Biden has been aided in his South Carolina campaign by Rep. Jim Clyburn, whose 2020 endorsement served as a long-awaited signal to the state’s Black voters that Biden would be the right candidate to advocate for their interests.

Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman and Asian American to serve in the role, have consistently thanked the state’s Democrats for their support. Biden a week ago told attendees at a state party fundraiser that “you’re the reason I am president.” He also argued to an audience of hundreds of party faithful that they were “the reason Donald Trump is a loser. And you’re the reason we’re going to win and beat him again,” framing the likely general election matchup with the GOP’s current front-runner.

Biden’s reelection campaign has said it was using the state’s primary to test strategies and messages that best motivate Black voters to the polls for the November general election. Though the state is solidly Republican, South Carolina’s diverse primary voters mirror the Democratic coalition that Biden must hold together to win another term.

From South Carolina, the Democratic nominating calendar moves to Nevada, which holds its primary on Tuesday, and then to Michigan on Feb. 27.

(Copyright (c) 2024 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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