Groups that candidates are winning by six or more percentage points

Former vice president Joe Biden, who was projected to be the winner as polls closed Saturday, had the highest favorability among the Democratic presidential candidates, according to exit polls.

Black voters favored Biden over Sanders 4 to 1

Black voters made up a majority of the primary voters, and they favored Biden over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by about 4 to 1, according to exit poll data. Biden held a smaller lead over Sanders among white voters. Former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg received more than 10 percent support each among white voters, but stood in the low single digits among black voters.

[Live South Carolina election results]

Older voters made up a large share of the electorate

More than two-thirds of primary voters were age 45 or older, the highest for any Democratic contest so far and a trend that hampered Sanders, who has performed strongest with younger Democrats. Sanders led Biden among voters under age 30, but Biden beat Sanders among older age groups, winning by more than 3 to 1 among those ages 45-64 and by more than 6 to 1 among seniors.

Biden led large group attending religious services regularly

More than 4 out of 10 of South Carolina Democratic primary voters reported attending religious services once a week or more, according to exit polls. That is much higher than in New Hampshire’s primary earlier this month, in which just 13 percent attended weekly and 51 percent never attended. In South Carolina only 17 percent said they never attend. In New Hampshire, Sanders’s support was about twice as high among those who never attended religious services as those who attended weekly or more often.

Results show the strengths and weaknesses of each Democratic candidate, according to a survey of South Carolina voters as they exited randomly selected precincts across the state.

Each candidate’s five most and least supportive groups

Exit poll results from South Carolina are shown below. Candidates who won a demographic group by 6 or more percentage points are highlighted. The candidates in the tables below were polling at or above 5 percent in The Post’s South Carolina polling average.

Emily Guskin

Emily Guskin is the polling analyst at The Washington Post, specializing in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy. Before joining The Post in 2016, she was a research manager at APCO Worldwide and prior to that, she was a research analyst at the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project.

Chris Alcantara

Chris Alcantara is a graphics reporter at The Washington Post, where he uses code and data to tell visual stories on a variety of subjects, including politics and technology. He joined The Post in 2016.

Scott Clement

Scott Clement is the polling director for The Washington Post, conducting national and local polls about politics, elections and social issues. He began his career with the ABC News Polling Unit and came to The Post in 2011 after conducting surveys with the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project.

Kevin Uhrmacher

Kevin Uhrmacher is a graphics editor for politics covering elections and public policy at The Washington Post.

Dan Keating

Dan Keating analyzes data for projects, stories, graphics and interactive online presentations.

Kevin Schaul contributed to this report. Candidate illustrations by Ben Kirchner.


These are results from a survey of 2,178 voters as they exited randomly selected voting sites across South Carolina on primary day, Feb. 29. The poll was conducted by Edison Media Research for the National Election Pool, The Washington Post and other media organizations. Results for typical characteristics have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Originally published Feb. 29, 2020.