Joe Biden may have his first primary victory in South Carolina, something that is essential for his campaign to compete against frontrunner Bernie Sanders, who continues to weather attacks from the media and Dem establishments.
After poor showings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, Biden is looking to challenge Sanders’ frontrunner status with a comeback in South Carolina, a place where he is expected to win.
Though his campaign has been riddled with gaffes and he’s struggled in previous states, polling in South Carolina shows Biden has a double digit lead over his competitors. An average of polls out of South Carolina gathered by Real Clear Politics has Biden leading the field with 39.7 percent support, and Sanders trailing behind at roughly 24.3 percent. Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg are the only other candidates with double digits at 11.7 and 11.3 percent, respectively.
Victories in New Hampshire and Nevada have so far earned Sanders 45 delegates, more than any other competing Dem. He has also continued to lead in national polls ahead of Super Tuesday, March 3, when 14 states will have more than 1000 delegates up for grabs. But Sanders’ potential nominee status and non-mainstream views have been a hard pill to swallow for his own party. Sanders has faced constant criticism from mainstream Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, and talking heads in the media.
Michael Bloomberg, who has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on his campaign and still won no delegates, even suggested at a campaign stop in Houston that he may not give any financial support to Sanders should he become the nominee.
With Bloomberg, Warren and others all struggling to pitch themselves as an alternative to the socialist senator, Biden’s potential victory in South Carolina is not only essential for the survival of his campaign, but also to show that he is the more centric choice with the real shot at stopping Sanders’ momentum. The only other Democrat to win a state thus far has been Buttigieg, but his Iowa victory has meant little since it came under serious scrutiny and he’s now polling in South Carolina in the single digits.
With no single candidate the mainstream media are confident enough to promote against the Vermont senator, many have regardless chosen the path of negative coverage. The New York Times has run multiple columns this week taking pretty harsh stances against Sanders and his supporters, one entitled ‘The Pied Pipers of the Dirtbag Left Want to Lead Everyone’ and another called ‘Why Bernie Scares Me.’ CNN host Michael Smerconish even compared the senator’s lead to the coronavirus outbreak. “Can either coronavirus or Bernie Sanders be stopped?” Smerconish said ahead of the South Carolina primary vote.
Democrat strategist James Carville, who has slammed Sanders as a “communist,” has become one of many mainstream voices already predicting a brokered convention in July. “Only two things are going to happen: either Bernie or brokered,” Carville said ahead of the South Carolina primary.
In a New York Times article featuring interviews with Democrat super delegates, who can vote for anyone at the Democratic National Convention, only nine of the 93 said Sanders should be the party’s nominee if there is a brokered convention.
With the more mainstream wings of his party clearly against him, Sanders’ only path to the nomination appears to be winning a majority of delegates before the convention, and Dems’ only shot at stopping that is someone like Biden showing they have a campaign strong enough to capitalize on the hesitation — and flat out resentment from some — against Sanders. For that Biden would not only need to secure a clear victory in South Carolina, but to pick up momentum thereafter — a scenario that at this moment appears far from certain.