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

Former Vice President Joe Biden’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 Sanders (I-Vt.) with 20 percent and businessman Tom Steyer 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.

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