Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar finished far behind the leaders Saturday in the Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina, casting more doubt on the future of her White House bid.
With all precincts reporting, Klobuchar was in sixth place with 3.1% of the vote, while the contest’s winner, former Vice President Joe Biden with 48%, emerged in a strong position to challenge Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who dominated the first three caucuses and primaries.
Klobuchar’s travel schedule in recent days suggested the campaign’s low expectations — her last events in the state were Wednesday in Charleston, where she spoke at a ministers’ breakfast and held an afternoon rally that drew about 200 people.
But she gave no indication of dropping out. “There is still a long way to go,” she wrote in a fundraising e-mail to supporters, according to the Associated Press.
On Thursday, two days before South Carolina voters went to the polls, Klobuchar was campaigning in North Carolina, looking for a Super Tuesday rebound in some of the 14 states that will vote on March 3. A noon rally in Falls Church, a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., brought out over 1,300 people, according to her campaign.
That turnout could be seen as a sign of growing interest among suburban voters eager for a moderate candidate to beat President Donald Trump, but Klobuchar has been polling in the single digits in Virginia as well.
As votes were being cast in South Carolina, Klobuchar was holding campaign events in Tennessee, Virginia, Maine and North Carolina. Her resources spread thin, she was scheduled to campaign in 11 Super Tuesday states in the last three days of her Super Tuesday push, including a Minnesota rally Sunday night at St. Louis Park High School. Not on her itinerary: California and Texas, the Super Tuesday states with the biggest delegate hauls.
After finishing fifth in Iowa and sixth in Nevada, Klobuchar’s case for staying in the crowded Democratic race has rested on a surprising third-place finish in New Hampshire, and now perhaps the hope of winning at home in Minnesota, the only state where she leads in the polls.
Getting no bounce from South Carolina, Klobuchar is likely to face increasing pressure to end her campaign. Those calls have multiplied in recent days as the race shapes up into a contest of which of the remaining moderate Democrats can stop Sanders, a champion of the left, from amassing an insurmountable delegate lead.
Biden, whose hopes of catching Sanders were riding on a strong performance in South Carolina, said in an interview on Wednesday with the Post and Courier in Charleston that some of his rivals would “have to consider dropping out” if they did poorly in South Carolina, a state with a large black population.
“How do you stay in it if you have demonstrated you can’t get any African-American support?” Biden said.
Klobuchar seemed to make little headway with the state’s large population of black Democrats, who make up more than half the party’s electorate in South Carolina. Several polls found her with negligible support with black voters in the state.
As the fourth state to vote, South Carolina has long been on Klobuchar’s campaign radar. She made her first visit last February, shortly after joining the race,
The subsequent months found Klobuchar back in South Carolina from time to time, but not nearly as often as she campaigned in Iowa and New Hampshire. In both those places, the Klobuchar campaign hired teams of staff; her South Carolina hires came much later and were much smaller in number.