Former Vice President Joe Biden’s leading status in the 2020 Democratic presidential race took a severe hit following his repeated mentions in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump and his dismal performance with voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Temporarily bolstered by a second-place finish in Nevada, the future of Biden’s campaign has largely come down to the upcoming primary in South Carolina. However, as his campaign struggles, Biden’s suggesting that his rivals may be the ones who have to quit if they’re unable to garner sufficient support from black voters in South Carolina.
Biden calls for others to drop out
In an interview with The Post and Courier, Biden keyed in on the importance of winning the support of minority voters in South Carolina, where the demographic makes up roughly two-thirds of the Democrat-aligned electorate.
“They would have to consider dropping out, not because I want them to or anybody else does, but because the victories and losses are going to dictate it,” Biden said of his 2020 rivals.
“How do you stay in if you have demonstrated you can’t get any African American support?” he asked. “How do you stay in if you don’t get support in South Carolina? So I just think the process is going to take care of that. I don’t think it requires anybody to say, ‘get out of the race.'”
Though not specifically named by Biden, the former vice president was most likely referring to former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and perhaps even Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), all of whom seem to have struggled to gain support among minority voters.
Biden’s struggling campaign
As Biden’s support among voters nationally cratered in January and February, self-declared democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) surged in popularity. After finishing at or near the top of the field in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, Sanders is polling better than expected in South Carolina as well.
Furthermore, polling for the upcoming Super Tuesday state primaries and caucuses on March 3 suggest that Sanders could easily win several states and build up a substantial lead in the delegate count for the party nomination. This possibility is prompting an increasingly concerned counter-effort among establishment Democrats to align behind one candidate that could prevent the openly radical socialist from winning.
Biden looking strong in South Carolina
Biden has repeatedly referenced South Carolina as a must-win “firewall” state in his bid for the presidency and, despite his troubles elsewhere, the picture still looks rosy for him in the Palmetto State, at least according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, which shows Biden with more than 34% support and a 12-point lead over his nearest rival Sanders.
When asked this week if he would drop out after performing poorly in South Carolina, the former vice president would not consider the possibility, insisting, “I will win South Carolina.”
The Post and Courier noted that Biden has secured the endorsement of one of the most influential Democratic politicians in the southern state, Rep. Jim Clyburn, which theoretically will firm up Biden’s support among black voters.
The South Carolina primary is set to take place on Saturday, February 29.