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Biden's lead shrinks in South Carolina as Sanders climbs to second: poll

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFauci says school should be open 'full blast' five days a week in the fall Overnight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Immigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart MORE’s lead shrank in his firewall state of South Carolina, though he still holds an 8-point edge, according to an East Carolina University (ECU) poll released Friday.

Biden gets the support of 28 percent of likely South Carolina primary voters, followed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersStudy: Early unemployment cutoff would cost 16M people 0B Machine Gun Kelly reveals how Bernie Sanders aided him in his relationship with Megan Fox Overnight Health Care: CDC approves Pfizer vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 | House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill | Panel blasts COVID-19 response MORE (I-Vt.) with 20 percent and businessman Tom SteyerTom SteyerTop 12 political donors accounted for almost 1 of every 13 dollars raised since 2009: study California Democrats weigh their recall options Why we should be leery of companies entering political fray MORE with 14 percent. No other candidate breaks double digits in the poll ahead of the Feb. 29 primary in the Palmetto State.

The poll comes as Biden leans on South Carolina to reverse his fortunes after fourth- and fifth-place showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively, but his allies have started to fear the poor results could follow him there, too.

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Biden’s support dropped 9 points since the last ECU poll, which was conducted right before Iowa’s caucuses. Meanwhile, Sanders, who garnered the most votes in each of the first two states, has surged in South Carolina from 14 percent earlier this month, surpassing Steyer for second place.

Biden is still buoyed by strong support from black voters, 36 percent of whom favor him while 20 percent support Sanders. Another 17 percent back Steyer, who has invested heavily in winning over black support in the state.

However, African Americans appear to be split along generational lines. Black voters 55 years and older support Biden by a 40-point margin, but black voters age 54 and younger favor Sanders over the former vice president by a narrow margin of 29 percent to 26 percent.

South Carolina’s primary is the first real opportunity for candidates to show their support among black Democrats, a key voting bloc for the party that will make up over 60 percent of the state’s primary electorate.

The ECU poll surveyed 703 likely voters from Feb. 12-13 and has a margin of error of 4.3 percent.