Joe Biden has been looking forward to South Carolina but a new poll shows that the former vice president may have cause to worry in the Palmetto State. While Biden has consistently been strong in South Carolina, the new poll from the Post and Courier and Change Research indicated that Biden’s lead has been cut to five points over Bernie Sanders.
The poll showed Biden with 25 percent of likely Democratic primary voters while Sanders nips at his heels with 20 percent. Tom Steyer, who has blitzed the state with ads in an all-out attempt to stay in the race, polled third with 18 percent. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg followed with 11 and seven percent respectively. No other candidates polled above five percent.
Although the poll is likely to set off alarm bells at the Biden campaign, it is far from certain that the Sanders surge in South Carolina is real. The only other recent polls in the state, a GQR Research poll taken from January 9-13 and a Fox News poll taken from January 5-8, both showed Biden with a lead of more than 20 points. On the other hand, as other outlets were showing double-digit leads for Biden, another Change Research poll from December showed only a seven-point lead for the vice president.
This leaves a couple of possibilities. There could be a real Sanders surge underway that developed since mid-January. Alternatively, Change Research could be habitually overcounting Sanders supporters. The relatively small sample size and Change Research’s previous outlier poll from December suggest that Biden’s lead is larger than the poll indicates. It is very suspicious that only Change Research shows a close race.
South Carolina’s primary is set for Saturday, February 29. There will undoubtedly be several new polls as the Palmetto State’s Election Day draws near. My bet would be that they show a larger lead for Joe Biden than what Change Research found.