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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 Deval Patrick and businessman Andrew Yang have withdrawn from the race, but their names will still appear on the ballot.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

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.

18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi expects “billionaire’s tax” to pay for Biden social spending

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she expects the chamber to pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by week’s end, and alternatives to corporate tax hikes and a “billionaires tax” will be used to finance President Biden’s promised expansion to the social safety net.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s comments come as House and Senate leaders try to wrap up a deal. What will get cut — and how the remainder will be paid — are linchpins to a final agreement.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
19 mins ago - Axios on HBO

FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried mystified by value of NFTs

Crypto exchange FTX, valued last week at $25 billion, recently launched an NFT marketplace by selling an image of the word "Test" for $270,000.

  • FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried tells "Axios on HBO" that he doesn't quite understand the appeal, but adds that he doesn't personally appreciate many visual arts.