Biden holds wide lead in South Carolina: poll

Biden holds wide lead in South Carolina: poll

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Hillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Vulnerable Democrats brace for Sanders atop ticket MORE trounces his competition in South Carolina, carrying a 27-point lead over his closest rival in the Democratic presidential race, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. House passes historic legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE (D-Calif.), according to a survey from Monmouth University Poll released Thursday.

The poll, Monmouth’s first in South Carolina of the 2020 election cycle, shows Biden with the support of 39 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in the Palmetto State. 

Biden is followed by Harris at 12 percent, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDNC warns campaigns about cybersecurity after attempted scam Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Biden looks to shore up lead in S.C. MORE (I-Vt.) at 10 percent, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Hillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Push for national popular vote movement gets boost from conservatives MORE (D-Mass.) at 9 percent and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Vulnerable Democrats brace for Sanders atop ticket The Hill's Campaign Report: Gloves off in South Carolina MORE at 5 percent.

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Only two other candidates — Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats' Obama-to-Sanders shift on charter schooling This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Juan Williams: Black votes matter MORE (D-N.J.) and billionaire philanthropist Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. The Hill's Campaign Report: Gloves off in South Carolina There's only one candidate for Democrats in Puerto Rico MORE — took more than 1 percent in the survey, coming in with 2 percent support each.

Among black voters, who make up more than 60 percent of the Democratic primary electorate in South Carolina, Biden clocks in with 51 percent support. That’s more than four times higher than the 12 percent of black voters that said they back Harris, and more than five times higher than the 10 percent that support Sanders.

“Black Democrats tend to be more moderate than white primary voters. Biden is the best known candidate currently occupying that lane,” Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said.

South Carolina will be the fourth state to hold its Democratic nominating contest in 2020, and the first state in which black voters make up a majority of the primary electorate. A win there is also seen as crucial, because it is the last early state to hold a primary before Super Tuesday, when voters in more than a dozen states will head to the polls.

The Monmouth poll surveyed 405 likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina from July 18-22. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Biden has regularly led the Democratic primary field among black voters, but has embarked on a more aggressive effort in recent days to shore up his support among that voting bloc. 

On Tuesday, he toured a youth center in New Orleans alongside Rep. Cedric RichmondCedric Levon RichmondJuan Williams: Don't count Biden out Beleaguered Biden turns to must-win South Carolina Biden, Warren on ropes after delegate shutout MORE (D-La.), the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

That same day, Biden released a wide-ranging proposal to tackle mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

But there are signs that Biden’s support among black voters may be more tenuous than once thought. Polls from Morning Consult show that Biden’s support has dropped by 7 points since a June 28 presidential debate, when Harris confronted him over his opposition to federally mandated school busing in the 1970s. Since then, Harris has seen her support among black voters rise by 6 percent.

Booker, meanwhile, has begun confronting Biden more directly over his record, accusing the former vice president this week of helping to exacerbate racial disparities in the criminal justice system by supporting the 1994 crime bill that many believe contributed to mass incarceration.

In a speech at the National Urban League conference in Indianapolis on Thursday, Booker appeared to allude to Biden once again, suggesting that candidates should be judged not just by their policy aspirations but by their records.

“It is not enough to show up in our communities today, with a promise of a better tomorrow,” Booker said. “What were you doing five, 10, 15 or 20 years ago to fight for racial justice, to combat racial inequality and structural inequality?”