Disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire appear to have shaken the electorate’s faith in former Vice President Joe Biden, allowing Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders to surge past him in national polling. With the Nevada caucuses only a week away, Biden now appears to be struggling to maintain support across the country.
In a potentially major sign of trouble, Biden seems to be losing ground in South Carolina, per a new report from Politico. According to the report, “deep cracks” are emerging in the former vice president’s southern firewall, with voters and local representatives switching over to other candidates, namely Sanders and billionaire Tom Steyer.
Dahli Myers, vice chair of the Richland County Council and a former Biden supporter, explained that she shifted her support to Sanders over concerns about Biden’s “electability” message and because his campaign’s voter outreach strategies were outdated and inefficient.
“If the whole of your argument for my vote is, ‘I’m electable’, and there is nothing that you presented as, you know, the case study for why we should elect you, though you are electable, what is the point? Give me a reason to elect you. And I don’t think that that campaign’s doing a good job of that” she said, noting that Biden’s underwhelming performance in Iowa and New Hampshire solidified her decision to back Sanders.
Rep. Ivory Thigpen of Richland County, who also supports Sanders, said that his decision to do so was a “political calculation.” Pointing to Sanders’ support among young voters, Thigpen suggested that the Vermont senator has what it takes to beat President Donald Trump in November.
“I don’t have anything against Biden, I just think he’s a return to the status quo,” he said.
It is not only Sanders that is breathing down Biden’s neck in South Carolina. Steyer has committed more resources to South Carolina than any other candidate and has a 93-person staff in the state. The billionaire has also spent a significant amount of money — $15 million — on ads. The work is now paying off, with influential local leaders joining his campaign.
One of them, Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, explained why she now backs Steyer.
“Where Steyer has stepped up and Biden has not is simply coming into the state and asking people for their support and going throughout the state, meeting with people,” the politician said, adding that she is “not convinced” Biden can beat Trump.
Polling reflects the sentiments expressed by former Biden backers. According to an East Carolina University poll released this week, Biden’s lead in South Carolina reduced nine points. The former vice president is now polling at 28 percent, with Sanders behind at 20 percent. Steyer is in third place with 14 percent.