(CN) – On the eve of the Democratic primary in South Carolina, former Vice President Joe Biden is the clear front-runner with the support of over one-third of Palmetto State voters in the latest forecast.
South Carolina on Saturday hosts the fourth nominating contest with 54 delegates up for grabs. To become the Democratic nominee, a candidate needs to earn 1,990 of 3,979 total delegates nationwide. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has so far amassed the most delegates after races in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
The early primaries and caucuses establish the candidates’ momentum and they narrow the field prior to Super Tuesday, March 3, when 14 states will allocate more than a third of all delegates.
Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg took an early lead in Iowa by winning 13 delegates, while Sanders won the popular vote and secured 12 delegates. Biden, who is favored in South Carolina, took six delegates in the Hawkeye State caucuses.
In the second contest in New Hampshire, Sanders and Buttigieg both took nine delegates, leaving none for the remaining candidates. Sanders jumped ahead of the pack in last weekend’s Nevada caucuses, winning 24 delegates. Biden won nine while Buttigieg took three.
Sanders currently leads with a total of 45 delegates, followed by Buttigieg, who has 25, and Biden with 15. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has eight total delegates and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has seven. Businessman Tom Steyer has none but is polling well in South Carolina.
While former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg polled high enough to compete in the last two Democratic primary debates – including one on Tuesday in Charleston, South Carolina – he was a late entry into the race and will not be on Saturday’s ballot in the Palmetto State.
Poll aggregator RealClearPolitics shows Biden has the support of an average of 34.3% of South Carolina voters. Sanders comes in second with 22.3%, followed by Steyer in third at 13.7%. Buttigieg polls at 9% in the state, compared to Warren at 8% and Klobuchar at 4%. The last remaining candidate in the race, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, polls at 3.2% ahead of Saturday’s election, according to RealClearPolitics.
South Carolina’s primary is open, meaning anyone can vote, not just Democrats. The results there traditionally influence the outcome of Super Tuesday.
There are 1,338 delegate votes on the line March 3, when Bloomberg will be on the ballot for the first time in all 14 states. California has 415 delegates, while Texas comes in second with 228 followed by North Carolina with 110 delegates. Virginia has 99, Massachusetts has 91 and Minnesota has 75. The remaining states are Colorado (67 delegates), Tennessee (64), Alabama (52), Oklahoma (37), Arkansas (31), Utah (29), Maine (24) and Vermont (16).