Joe Biden was expected to do well in South Carolina but nowhere near this well. With 85% of the votes counted Biden has almost 50% of the vote with sanders near 20%.

Tom Steyer dropped out. Bloomberg should too.

Let's tune into 538 Live Updates for comments.

NATHANIEL RAKICH 9:41 PM: My final takeaway is that this could wind up as an inflection point in the primary calendar. The timing could not have been better for Biden. With Super Tuesday’s massive delegate haul in three days, it would be huge for Biden if there’s a media narrative that he has emerged as the strongest establishment candidate to take on Sanders. You’ve already seen some party elders endorse him tonight. Furthermore, his huge and unexpected margin of victory (it could be 30 points!) bodes very well for him in other Southern states that vote on Super Tuesday.

GEOFFREY SKELLEY 9:38 PM: Biden got the big win he needed, outperforming his polls by quite a bit. And he may have turned this into a two-person race against Sanders, though we’ll see how true that really is on Super Tuesday. It’ll be a very different race that day with so many states voting — including huge states like California and Texas — so we should be careful to not overstate the impact of this South Carolina result. But at this point in the campaign, Biden’s result in the Palmetto State is basically his best-case outcome.

PERRY BACON JR. 9:36 PM: What a huge, massive victory for Biden. It was comparable to the blowouts in South Carolina for Obama in 2008 and Clinton in 2016. It shows how differently black voters are viewing this primary than white ones. I think you will start seeing a real push for non-Biden moderate candidates to get out of the race as well as Biden receiving a lot of endorsements. I think this is a really big night — the Democratic Party might truly mobilize behind Biden and try to push him past Sanders.

NATHANIEL RAKICH 9:35 PM: With his huge margin in South Carolina, Biden has now taken the lead in the nationwide popular vote in the primaries and caucuses so far, according to ABC News’s tally. He has 240,302 votes (26 percent) to Sanders’s 229,461 (25 percent).

PERRY BACON JR. 9:25 PM: I was looking at the returns from some majority-black, rural counties and it looks like Biden really cleaned up in those: Allendale (58 percent of the vote), Hampton (53 percent), Lee (70), Marion (65), Marlboro (62) and Williamsburg (70). That fits with the broader story of tonight (Biden winning the black vote overwhelmingly). The South has some rural black areas where I suspect Biden will be very, very strong.

GEOFFREY SKELLEY 9:24 PM: My back-of-the-envelope delegate math suggests that Biden could get more than 40 of the state’s 54 pledged delegates.

State of the Democratic Race

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A week ago Sanders was trading at 67 cents and not too long ago Bloomberg was doing better than Biden.

Sanders is way too high in my estimation.

The odds of a contested convention rose tonight. We will know much more on Super Tuesday, March 3. But I suspect this will give a big boost to Biden in Texas.

Florida Primary

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As it stands now, Sanders would get few if any Florida delegates. But the big problem is for everyone but Sanders is California.

California Primary

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​If those results held, only Sanders and Warren would win delegates in California.

However, I expect Biden will get a boost in Texas, California, and the other Super Tuesday states after this blowout win.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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