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Poll: Biden's lead narrows to 4 points over Sanders in South Carolina

Poll: Biden's lead narrows to 4 points over Sanders in South Carolina
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies Overnight Defense: Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave | Pentagon chief: Climate crisis 'existential' threat to US national security | Army conducts review after 4 Black soldiers harassed at Virginia IHOP Feds expect to charge scores more in connection to Capitol riot MORE's lead over Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi pushes for drug pricing measure amid uncertainty from White House White House sees GOP proposal as legitimate starting point The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' MORE (I-Vt.) in South Carolina has narrowed to just 4 points as the state's presidential primary nears, according to a new NBC News-Marist survey released Monday.

The slim lead is well within the survey's margin of error of 6 percentage points. Twenty-seven percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they favored Biden, while 23 percent said they would support Sanders, who has emerged as the clear front-runner in the race after a decisive victory in the Nevada caucuses. 

Sanders's strong showing in Nevada came on the heels of a victory in New Hampshire and a virtual tie with former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden administration takes step toward allowing California to set its own tailpipe emissions standards Republicans unveil 8 billion infrastructure plan DOT appoints chief science officer for first time in 40 years MORE in Iowa. 

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Billionaire activist 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 is in a distant third with 15 percent support, according to the poll. No other candidate in the field garnered double-digit support, with 9 percent of respondents backing Buttigieg and 8 percent supporting Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden plan would nearly double capital gains tax for wealthy: report Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave Progressives divided over efforts to repeal SALT cap MORE (D-Mass.). Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSharpton eulogizes Daunte Wright: 'Tags of racism' have expired Hawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing MORE (D-Minn.) earned 5 percent support in the survey. 

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not competing in South Carolina, instead focusing his campaign on Super Tuesday states. 

South Carolina's primary likely will be pivotal to Biden's presidential campaign. Despite poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, the former vice president has continually voiced confidence that he would perform strongly in more diverse states. South Carolina is the first state to vote with a Democratic electorate made up of a majority of African Americans.

The latest NBC survey shows Biden performing best among that demographic with 35 percent support. Sanders trails him in second with 20 percent support among African Americans. Steyer is at 19 percent. 

Recent surveys have offered a wide range of forecasts in South Carolina. A CBS-YouGov poll released on Sunday found that Biden's support had fallen by double digits and that his lead over Sanders was just 5 points. A survey from the left-leaning firm Publicly Policy Polling offered a starkly different result, showing Biden with a 15-point lead over the progressive senator. 

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Asked about the CBS-YouGov survey on Sunday, Biden said that his declining support among African Americans stemmed from Steyer's ad blitz in the state. Steyer has reportedly spent $20 million on TV and radio ads in South Carolina in the run up to the primary on Saturday.  

"I think a lot’s happening in terms of the amount of money being spent by billionaires to try to cut into the African American vote," Biden said. 

The NBC News-Marist poll was conducted between Feb. 18 and Feb. 21 among a sample of 539 likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina.