Team Clinton truly had a bad month. The email fiasco isn’t going away; her poll numbers continue to drop; and her electability (which wasn’t an issue a week ago) is now in question. She’s losing to Jeb Bush and Dr. Ben Carson in head-to-head matchups, and she’s polling at a dead heat with Donald Trump. Now, a CBS/YouGov poll shows that Sen. Bernie Sanders has a 22-point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire. In Iowa, Sanders has a 10-point lead, with Vice President Joe Biden doing best in South Carolina, which is the primary contest where he would probably try to shakeup things up in the 2016 Democratic Primary if he were to toss his hat in the ring:
The new poll finds Sen. Sanders with 52% support among Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, while former Secretary of State Clinton, long considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic nomination, receives 30%. Recent polls have shown Sanders’ lead growing in the Granite State, but this would be the first to show the Vermont Senator over 50%.
Vice President Joe Biden, who is rumored to be considering a run for the White House in 2016, receives only 10% support from Democrats in Iowa and 9% in New Hampshire placing him third in both states. Biden’s best performance is in South Carolina, where he has the backing of 22% of Democratic primary voters, matching Sanders’ 23%. Yet Clinton remains firmly in the lead there with 46% support.
Yet, this poll also alludes to something number crunchers has said for awhile now; Sanders could win Iowa and New Hampshire–and then lose everything else:
In Iowa and New Hampshire, that isn’t a very big deal. In 2008, 93 percent of Democrats who participated in the Iowa caucus were white, while 95 percent of those who voted in the New Hampshire primary were.
The percentage of white liberals isn’t so high in other early primary states, however. It’s just 29 percent in Nevada and 19 percent in South Carolina. The percentage is also low in high-population, delegate-rich states like California (26 percent) and Texas (17 percent).
Put another way, Iowa and New Hampshire aren’t representative of the more diverse electorates that Democrats will turn out elsewhere. It just so happens that the idiosyncrasies of the first two states match Sanders’s strengths and Clinton’s relative weaknesses.
Overall, white progressives still make up the core of the Sanders coalition. He is virtually unknown to black voters, and Sanders will need to place his minority inclusion operations on steroids if he wishes to continue his campaign. After all, nonwhite Democrats were the reason why Obama was able to top Clinton in 2008. As Nate Silver noted above, after Iowa and New Hampshire, the voting electorate for the 2016 Democratic primary become a lot more diverse. Sanders’ team knows this, which is why he’s beginning to reach out to black Democrats. At the same time, the Des Moines Register poll in August showed that Sanders might be mustering elements of the Obama coalition to his side. So, we’ll see how this trend goes when we get closer to February.
In the Bidenland, South Carolina could be a winnable contest for the vice president. He has a grassroots army, albeit a small one, a donor base, and the advantages of incumbency on his side. His past relations in the state are have built what is described as a “ready made” network. Also, folks here want the vice president to run:
Biden’s friendship with [Sen. Strom ] Thurmond and with former Senator Fritz Hollings, among others, has made the vice president a regular in the early primary state for years, building what Harpootlian calls a “ready-made” network of supporters eager for Biden to jump into the presidential race. Biden’s regular vacations to Kiawah Island—where he spent the past weekend—have also kept him in contact with key political players in the state.
…in South Carolina… Democrats have been clamoring for Biden to take on party standard-bearer and frontrunner Hillary Clinton. The conventional wisdom hasn’t figured in the boost a win in an early primary could give him. “The Democratic nomination for president will be decided in South Carolina,” said James Smith, a South Carolina lawmaker and key figure in Democratic circles. “There’s such an appetite for Joe—and also not Hillary. There is Clinton fatigue.”
At the same time, Politico described Biden’s possible South Carolina gamble as one based on hopes and prayers. For starters, while many in the state might speak highly of the vice president, talk is cheap and doesn’t guarantee votes come Election Day:
Joe Biden thinks he can win South Carolina. And that victory, he believes, would hurtle his campaign into a rally toward the Democratic nomination no matter who has already taken Iowa and New Hampshire.
He thinks this because two political operatives no longer in the game — known Clinton-hater and former state Democratic chairman Dick Harpootlian and the 93-year-old former senator Fritz Hollings — have told him it’s true.
“Joe Biden has a lot of support in South Carolina, always has,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn, arguably the most prominent and influential Democrat in the state, especially within the African-American community.
“If he were on the ballot and the voting were taking place this coming Tuesday, I’d think that Hillary Clinton would still survive. But the election will not be this coming Tuesday, and if he were to get into the race at this point, it all depends,” Clyburn said. “People are really concerned about those emails.”
Clinton’s backers in South Carolina dismiss the Biden theory outright. Don Fowler, the former Democratic National Committee and state party chairman here, called it all “fanciful thinking” and “superficial boasting.”
“I don’t make light of Vice President Biden’s campaign, but having admiration for him and thinking people in South Carolina like him is a long way from thinking he could win the South Carolina primary,” he said.
The article added that Clinton’s favorable with black voters in the state are around 70-80 percent. So,maybe this is a bad idea for Biden after all.
Last note: Trump continues to lead the pack in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.