Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton maintains a strong lead over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in South Carolina’s Feb. 27 presidential primary.
Clinton picked up 59 percent support while Sanders won 30 percent in the Monmouth University poll released Thursday. Clinton’s lead shrank from her 48-point lead in a November Monmouth poll.
Among African Americans – expected to make up a majority of Democratic primary voters – Clinton’s margins are wider than among Democrats overall.
While Sanders maintains a 48 percent to 44 percent edge over Clinton among white voters under 50, Clinton is beating Sanders among under-50 black voters, winning 60 percent support to Sanders’ 26 percent.
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Sixty-nine percent of black voters 50 years and older preferred Clinton while 12 percent picked Sanders in the poll.
In the S.C. poll, Sanders performed well among self-identified independents, leading Clinton by 46 percent to 43 percent.
However, Clinton is beating Sanders 65 percent to 24 percent among self-described Democrats likely to vote in the S.C. primary on Saturday.
“Sanders needs to convince minority voters that his economic inequality message addresses their specific concerns. If he is unable to do that in the South Carolina contest, it could be a very tough road for him in the southern-heavy Super Tuesday contests a few days later,” said Patrick Murray, director of the New Jersey-based Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Sanders has been polling better in Nevada, whose Democrats will caucus on Saturday, a week before S.C. Democrats hold their presidential primary.
Sanders’ surge in the Nevada polls – cutting Clinton’s lead from double digits to a few points and a tie in recent surveys – has raised questions about Clinton’s inevitability.