South Carolina Looks Like A Two Person Race

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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.

There’s been a lot of discussion about whether Republicans will try to interfere with the Democratic primary this weekend. We actually find that there are a fair number of Trump supporters- 14% of the electorate in this poll- planning to vote in the Democratic contest. But at this point their support is dispersing enough among different candidates not to have a real impact on the race- 32% are going to Gabbard, 15% to Sanders, and 12% to Biden. Unless Trump himself asks his supporters to go vote for someone in the Democratic primary, that doesn’t seem likely to end up being a major factor in the race.

Biden is the only candidate with more than a 50% favorability rating. He comes in at 61/20. Sanders is at 47/35, Warren at 46/31, Steyer at 45/24, Buttigieg at 41/35, and Klobuchar at 39/26.

South Carolina shows the same sorts of divides that have become pretty predictable in this race:

-Biden’s leads grows to 23 points at 42/19 among likely primary voters who are Democrats. But 31% are independents or Republicans, and Sanders leads 26-22 with those voters.

-Sanders leads the way with voters under 45. But in South Carolina his 8 point lead with them at 36-28 isn’t nearly as substantial as his 32 point deficit to Biden with seniors, at 40-8 (Steyer is actually second with seniors.)

Plenty could happen to change things in the next 5 days, but for now it looks like Biden’s position might be shoring up a little bit in South Carolina.

PPP interviewed 866 likely Democratic primary voters by phone and text on February 23rd and 24th and the margin of error is +/-3.3%. Full results here

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