… it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Don’t doubt for a moment that Democrats are going to go up and down on the see saw and take a few spins on the merry-go-round before some candidate grabs the brass ring and this is over. Joe Biden polled high nationally before the first of the year, since then we’ve seen the rise of Bernie Sanders, and now it looks like that situation could reverse itself in South Carolina. Public Policy Polling:
PPP’s newest poll of Democratic primary voters in South Carolina finds it looking like a two person race, with only Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders reaching double digits in their support. Biden gets 36% to 21% for Sanders, with Elizabeth Warren at 8%, Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer at 7%, Tulsi Gabbard at 6%, and Amy Klobuchar at 3% rounding out the field.
Other recent polls have found Steyer’s support in the 15-20% range. If he has indeed collapsed, as our poll seems to suggest, it appears his former supporters are making their way to Biden and helping him to open a bigger lead in the state. The key to Biden’s success continues to be strong support from African Americans- he gets 50% to 21% for Sanders, with no one else polling above 6%.
The South Carolina numbers show the difficulty Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and even Elizabeth Warren are going to face as the Democratic contest moves to more diverse states. The race is actually pretty close among white voters with Sanders getting 22%, Biden 20%, and Warren and Buttigieg each 15%. But Warren and Buttigieg are each at 2% with black voters, dropping their overall support into single digits. Klobuchar gets just 1% with African Americans.
Very simply, if the poll is accurate, then the only two candidates coming out of South Carolina with delegates will be Biden and Sanders. That might act as a catalyst for other candidates to throw in the towel. That said, Amy Klobuchar is said to be polling double digits in Minnesota, which makes sense, so maybe she’ll stay in for a while longer? It’s questionable whether Tom Steyer will. What Pete Buttigieg will do is anybody’s guess. He started out strong and certainly doesn’t want to throw it all aside at this point. This primary/caucus process is as much a display of the candidates’ mettle, as it is an actual game of numbers.
Two things can be expected for Biden and Sanders, again, if this poll is accurate. Sanders “expanding coalition” won’t be perceived as expanding any longer, if he loses by double digits to Biden in South Carolina. This is Biden’s oft-touted “firewall” of African American support. The second thing that will occur, if this poll is correct, is that Biden will finally be in the game. If he were to lose in South Carolina, that would pretty much be his death knell.
It will be interesting to see how this all sorts through. There is still too large of a field of candidates at this point. Somebody has to drop out and South Carolina may provide just the impetus.