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

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Former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (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 Buttigieg in Iowa. 

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer 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 Warren (D-Mass.). Sen. Amy Klobuchar (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. 

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. 

Tags Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Michael Bloomberg Pete Buttigieg Tom Steyer
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