POLITICS EXPLAINED: Winning the most votes does not mean you win the South Carolina primary

POLITICS EXPLAINED: Winning the most votes does not mean you win the South Carolina primary
South Carolina's primary is before Super Tuesday, when a large number of delegates are awarded to presidential candidates. The primary's timing, and the state's diverse voting population, make it important for any campaign. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - When South Carolinians go to the polls to vote in the Democratic primary, the candidate with the most votes might not be the one declared the winner.

The victor in the "First in the South" primary is decided by which candidate wins the most delegates.

A delegate is someone chosen to represent the voters in a state or district at the party convention in Milwaukee over the summer.

It takes 1,991 delegates to become the Democratic party nominee according to the Democratic National Committee.

South Carolina has 54 delegates, which is the most delegates of any other early-voting state. Those delegates are awarded proportionally. Of those delegates, 35 are awarded by congressional district. These delegates are allocated based on which congressman represents that area.

To break that down even further, there are seven districts. Rep. Jim Clyburn represents Congressional District 6, which carries eight delegates that can be allocated. If a candidate is able to earn 15% of the votes in that district, the candidate is guaranteed at least one delegate.

The other 19 delegates are also given out proportionally but based on who wins statewide rather than in different regions.

South Carolina also has nine automatic delegates or “superdelegates,” who are people that are not committed to a single candidate before the party convention. They are only allowed to vote on the second ballot at the party convention if no candidate hits that crucial 1,991 bar.

Leading up to the South Carolina primary, 101 delegates have already been allocated. Sen. Bernie Sanders has 45, Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg has 23, Former Vice President Joe Biden has 13, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has 8, Sen. Amy Klobuchar has 7, and billionaire Tom Steyer has none.

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