South Carolina

Where Biden, other 2020 candidates stand among SC black Democrats in latest poll

One in five black S.C. Democratic primary voters remain undecided in their choice for who should be the 2020 Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, according to a new poll — meaning 10 presidential hopefuls visiting one of the state’s historically black colleges this week still have a chance to win over voters.

Still, the new Monmouth University poll out Wednesday shows former Vice President Joe Biden with a significant lead of 39% among the state’s black voters — a critical electorate, making up two-thirds of the S.C. Democratic Party’s core primary voting bloc.

Tied for second with S.C. black voters was U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 11%.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California — one of two black candidates vying for the nomination — finished fourth in the poll at 8%.

“Biden is still in a pretty good position in South Carolina, but there are some signs that he might not have a true firewall among black voters,” said Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth University’s Polling Institute. “If he does not do well in the earlier contests in February, there may be potential for current preferences to shift.”

Monmouth surveyed 402 South Carolinians likely to vote in the state’s Feb. 29 Democratic presidential primary by telephone from Oct. 16-21. The poll has a margin of error plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

It is Monmouth’s second South Carolina primary poll of the 2020 cycle.

Other findings:

Biden slips overall — Overall, Biden remained the Democratic Party’s primary front-runner in South Carolina at 33%, slightly lower than the 39% support among Democratic voters overall he won in a July poll. In second is Warren at 16% and Sanders at 12%. Both improved from their July support at 9% and 10%, respectively.

S.C. Democratic voters aren’t buying allegations that Biden, as vice president, tried to pressure Ukraine to fire its prosecutor in an effort to protect his son, Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Twenty-eight percent of voters surveyed told Monmouth the allegations were not true, and another 35% said the allegations were probably not true. Asked whether the reports hurt or helped Biden’s ability to defeat President Donald Trump should the former Delaware senator be the Democrat’s presidential nominee, 44% surveyed said there was no impact.

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Maayan Schechter (My-yahn Schek-ter) covers the S.C. State House and politics for The State. She grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has previously worked at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News.