Joe Biden victorious in South Carolina primary, but margin still in doubt

Joe Biden has triumphed in South Carolina’s primary — the former vice president’s first-ever primary or caucus win in three attempts at the White House over 32 years.

Biden focused much of his attention and $890,000 worth of ads on South Carolina, where African American voters — who tend to be socially moderate or conservative — make up about 60% of the Democratic Party.

It was thought to be tough territory for the Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders. Biden held a strong edge with black Democrats for months — and had showed strength in recent public-opinion polls — two of which gave him a 20-point lead over Sanders.

Almost all of the networks, using exit polls, projected Biden a “decisive” winner as soon as polls closed at 7 p.m.

The margin of victory remains critical.

With 54 delegates up for grabs, a sizable victory for Biden could give him the lead over Sanders in terms of the delegate count.

And the bigger his win, the better, Republican consultant Susan del Percio said — because only candidates who rack up more than 15% of the vote will claim any delegates at all.

“A big win prevents anyone else from getting to 15%,” she explained. “That leaves more of a chance for the winner to collect a large number of delegates.”

A higher delegate number will add legitimacy as Super Tuesday looms — just three days away.

“But even if he wins big, Biden has a long way to go,” Dem strategist Brad Bannon said — noting that Biden’s anemic fundraising, despite a last-minute boost this week, left him with little to spend in the 14 states that vote March 3.

“He has to win in South Carolina to stay alive — but even if he stays alive, he’s still in big trouble.”

It was a pitched battle in South Carolina, where candidates have made at least 600 campaign stops and dropped more than $36 million on ads.

President Trump’s attempted to butt into the Democrats’ big day.

South Carolina’s open primary system means that any registered voter can participate in either party’s race. But local Republicans canceled their primary this year to close ranks behind Trump — leaving GOP stalwarts free to cast mischief-making ballots in the Democrats’ race.

“I assume this is OK from a campaign finance standpoint,” Trump joked Friday night at a South Carolina rally as he conducted a “poll” of the crowd — asking them which of the Democrats would be the easiest to beat in November.

“I think maybe Crazy Bernie has it,” Trump said, as he urged them to participate in the Democrats’ primary.

Past attempts at such inter-party meddling have largely fallen flat, experts said.

“Conservative Republicans are ideologues — they don’t vote tactically to play political games,” Bannon told The Post. “I have a hard time believing you’ll have an army of conservatives willing to go out and pull a lever for Bernie Sanders for any reason.”

At midday Saturday, Democratic Party officials told reporters they had seen “no mass evidence” of Republicans at the polls.

But there was some anecdotal evidence otherwise.

Voter Nan Gaughf crossed party lines to cast a ballot for Sanders, she told the Greenville News.

“I’m hoping he’ll be the worst Democratic candidate and will lose,” she said — adding that she hopes to see “a knockdown, drag out between capitalism and socialism” in the general election.

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