The poll shows Biden with just a seven percentage-point lead over his closest competitor, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Biden is supported by 27 percent of the electorate, and Sanders enjoys the support of 20 percent of South Carolina voters.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is breathing down Sanders’ neck, according to the poll, having secured the support of 19 percent of the electorate.
Sanders was propelled to second place by young voters, gaining more support than any other candidate, and adding seven percentage points since the last Post and Courier-Change Research poll, taken in October.
In South Carolina, the primary appears to be a three-way race between Biden, Sanders, and Warren, with the rest of the field in single-digit territory.
The survey is bad news for Biden, whose lead continues to melt away, with this being the first time he has not held a double-digit advantage over the rest of the field.
Furthermore, other polls suggest that Biden is falling behind in Iowa, and New Hampshire, with Sander surging in both states. The former vice president’s South Carolina firewall, experts claim, may not hold if he underperforms in the two early states.
The one truly sacred obligation our government has is to properly train and equip the men and women who defend our nation at war and to care for them and their families—while they’re deployed, and after they come home. We need a president who will honor that obligation. pic.twitter.com/sWnsYRr4k1
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 12, 2019
Multiple Democratic strategists have suggested that Biden’s South Carolina lead could evaporate, virtually overnight, if he doesn’t at least finish near the top in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“The support won’t be there if he’s slipping. There’s just no way,” a Democratic strategist said.
Professor of political science at Southern Methodist University Cal Jillson similarly suggested that “sentiments could shift quickly” against Biden if he underperforms in the two early states.
“If two different people win in Iowa and New Hampshire and Biden is close and competitive, then South Carolina could buoy him up and send him into Super Tuesday with some momentum,” Jillson said.
Sanders will likely face institutional and other barriers if he comes close to clinching the Democratic nomination, reports suggest. Even former President Barack Obama would reportedly be willing to intervene in the race, in order to stop Sanders from running away with the nomination.
“Obama said privately that if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama would speak up to stop him,” a source close to Obama recently told the media.
Furthermore, the Democratic Party establishment has not forgiven Sanders for launching an insurgent campaign against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, it seems, and an unofficial “Stop Sanders” coalition — made up of donors and party leaders — has reportedly formed.