Poll: Biden clings to narrowing lead in S.C.

The latest Winthrop University Poll showed the former vice president losing ground to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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Joe Biden remains the top choice to win this week’s South Carolina Primary, despite poor showings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

The latest Winthrop University Poll, released Thursday, showed the former vice president leading Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 24% to 19%. But with a 4.7% margin of error, the Winthrop pollsters called Biden’s lead “scant indeed.”

Why it matters: South Carolina is important in the presidential process because it is the first primary in the South and because it is the first time presidential candidates can be vetted by large numbers of Black voters. (About 30% of the people who vote in South Carolina are Black.)

Among Black voters in South Carolina, Biden is favored by 31%.

Here’s how the other candidates polled:

  • Tom Steyer 15%
  • Pete Buttigieg 7%
  • Elizabeth Warren 6%

The remaining two candidates fell under 5%, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not on the S.C. ballot. Nearly 1 in 5 likely voters were said to be undecided.

Biden fading: Winthrop Poll Director Dr. Scott Huffmon said Biden’s support in South Carolina has dropped by double digits since the last Winthrop Poll, in September 2019. Meanwhile Sanders’ support has doubled, both overall and among Black voters.

“Without a strong showing in South Carolina, Biden’s campaign will be limping into Super Tuesday,” Huffmon said. “Even a win, if not significant and decisive, will be interpreted as a loss by his opponents.”

The bottom line: While a growing number of Black politicians have endorsed Bloomberg, James Clyburn, the House Majority Whip and a key South Carolina voice, has not made a public endorsement. He said Sunday that he would announce his choice after Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.

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