Gender at the South Carolina Primary

 

Election night in South Carolina brought a surge to the Biden campaign and raised some questions about Amy Klobuchar’s and Elizabeth Warren’s prospects. However, both Warren and Klobuchar have said they plan to at least stay in the race a few more days as 14 states, including their own, vote on Super Tuesday.

What do we know about the women of South Carolina who voted in the high-stakes Democratic primary?

In terms of turnout, women once again made up a majority of Democratic primary voters – totaling 59% of the electorate.  This 18-point turnout differential, is the highest we have seen in the four 2020 contests thus far and yet is still smaller than what we saw in the 2016 South Carolina Democratic primary where women had a 22 point turnout advantage.

2020 DEM SOUTH CAROLINA PRIMARY TURNOUT

Source: National Election Pool/Edison Research

Because of his sizable overall margin of victory, Joe Biden won across almost every demographic, including women.  The former Vice President, captured  49% of female voters.  The next highest vote getter among women was Bernie Sanders at 17%, followed by Tom Steyer at 12%, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren both at 8% and Amy Klobuchar at 4%.

WOMEN SUPPORT

Source: National Election Pool/Edison Research

And when we look inside the women’s vote by race, the strength of Biden’s support is even greater with six out of ten black women supporting the former vice president with Sanders a distant second at 15%.  Biden’s margin of victory is much closer among white women with Biden capturing 34% of their vote compared to 19% for Sanders and 16% for Pete Buttigieg.

BLACK WOMEN SUPPORT: 

58 percent of the women voters were Black. They voted: 

Source: National Election Pool/Edison Research

WHITE WOMEN SUPPORT:

38 percent of the women voters were white. They voted: 

Source: National Election Pool/Edison Research

Of note, the only two notable demographics Sanders convincingly won in South Carolina were voters ages 17 to 29 (by 17 points) and voters who “never attend religious services” (by 12 points).

And what about the gender gap – how did women differ from men in who they supported?

Men were more likely than women to support Sanders (a 7 point gap).  There was no gender gap within Buttigieg’s support and the rest of the candidates saw more support with women: Biden (a 1 point gap), Klobuchar (a 2 point gap), Steyer (a 2 point gap) and Warren (a 3 point gap).

Source: 2/29/20 South Carolina Exit Poll/Edison Research/National Election Pool

In the end, the South Carolina primary came down to the top two candidates as Biden and Sanders together captured almost 70% of the vote.  The three female candidates remaining the race rounded out the last place finishers with Warren picking up only 7% of the vote, Klobuchar receiving 3% and Gabbard with only 1%.

Even among white college educated women, once a strong base of support for Warren and Klobuchar, each only managed to pick up 10% of that demographic while Biden captured 40%.   (In New Hampshire, Klobuchar won white college educated women with 30% compared to Biden at 6%).

WHITE COLLEGE GRADUATE WOMEN:

Source: National Election Pool/Edison Research

Compare this chart to the numbers for the New Hampshire primary here.

And regardless of who South Carolinians actually voted for, what did Democratic Primary voters think of Warren and Klobuchar overall?

WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF ELIZABETH WARREN:

Source: National Election Pool/Edison Research

WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF AMY KLOBUCHAR:

Source: National Election Pool/Edison Research

 

Note: The South Carolina Republican Party did not hold a presidential preference contest.

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