Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders marches with student supporters to an on-campus polling place for early voting at Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, February 27, 2020.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Sen. Bernie Sanders enters Saturday’s South Carolina Democratic primary with an early lead in pledged national delegates as his rivals try to slow his march toward the party’s presidential nomination.

The Vermont independent’s blowout victory in the Nevada caucus earned him 24 of the state’s 36 delegates, according to NBC News allocations. The second-place finisher, former Vice President Joe Biden, will come away with nine delegates, while former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg will get three. No other candidates earned delegates in Nevada.

The chart below shows where the Democratic presidential field stands in the race for 1,991 delegates — the majority needed to win the nomination — after contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

Sanders has about 45% of the available delegates so far.

Saturday’s South Carolina primary will award 54 pledged delegates. Biden has led Sanders in recent polls of the state, though the margins have varied widely. An average of recent surveys shows the former vice president with a 12 percentage point edge, according to RealClearPolitics.

On Tuesday, the day 14 states hold primaries, more than a third of total delegates will be up for grabs. The Super Tuesday contests in states such as California and Texas will play a huge role in determining whether Sanders can win a majority of delegates.

Sanders has enjoyed a big lead in an average of recent polls of California, the biggest Super Tuesday prize, which awards 416 delegates. Sanders and Biden are locked in a close race in the second biggest prize, Texas, according to recent surveys.

Polling averages also show close contests among Sanders, Biden and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg in Super Tuesday states North Carolina and Virginia. Bloomberg is not on the South Carolina ballot.

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