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A bicyclist rides pass campaign signs for Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Tom Steyer the day before the primary in North Charleston, S.C. Photo: Joshua Lott / AFP via Getty Images

South Carolina Democrats cast ballots today, the first in the South, toward picking the party's presidential nominee.

Why it matters: 61% of South Carolina's Democrats are black, and Saturday's primary is the first major test of African-American support for the candidates.

Details: Polls are opened from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m EST, and anyone in line at 7:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

  • The state's Republican Party passed on a primary, in support of President Trump.

On the ballot: Former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and businessman Tom Steyer.

  • Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Booker, former Rep. John K. Delaney, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and businessman Andrew Yang have withdrawn from the race, but their names will still appear on the ballot.
  • Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will not be, however. He is focusing instead on the Super Tuesday contests, coming up on March 3.
  • Write-in votes are not permitted in South Carolina's primary.

At stake: 63 delegates. Most will be assigned proportionally by congressional districts to candidates who win at least 15% of the state vote.

Where they stand, per FiveThirtyEight's poll average in South Carolina:

  • Biden: 37.6%
  • Sanders: 18.5%
  • Steyer: 12.8%
  • Bloomberg: 10.3%
  • Buttigieg: 8.3%
  • Warren: 7.2%
  • Klobuchar: 4.1%
  • Gabbard: 2.8%

The state of play: Biden is the front-runner in South Carolina, and he needs an overwhelming win to continue his campaign.

  • But a strong showing from Sanders could indicate how his appeal in the state has grown since 2016, when only about 14% of black voters backed him and 86% went for Hillary Clinton.
  • Steyer has a $13.3-million bet riding on a strong showing in South Carolina. He's hoping the heavy spending and his focus on racial issues and climate change resonates with voters and allows him to stay in the race.

For the record: The candidates have spent nearly $20 million on advertising in South Carolina, per FiveThirtyEight.

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

1 hour ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.