Elections

After shaky debate, race-related controversy, here’s how Biden is doing in SC

Harris confronts Biden about racism in tense exchange

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris confronts Joe Biden about racism during the second day of the NBC Democratic Presidential Primary Debates for the 2020 elections on June 27, 2019.
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Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris confronts Joe Biden about racism during the second day of the NBC Democratic Presidential Primary Debates for the 2020 elections on June 27, 2019.

Despite a few rough weeks on the campaign trail, Biden has been able to maintain a strong lead in South Carolina, according to a new poll of 2020 presidential contenders from Fox News.

The poll, which was released Thursday night, surveyed 701 S.C. Democratic primary voters, 35% of which chose the former vice president as their preferred nominee to take on President Donald Trump.

The poll of the state’s first-in-the-South Democratic presidential primary, where more than 60% of voters are expected to be African American, does not say how many white or black voters were surveyed.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders polled behind Biden, with 14% of participating South Carolinians throwing their support behind the Vermont Independent. Sen. Kamala Harris follows with 12%, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren clinched 5%.

The South Carolina-specific poll contrasted starkly with national polls released after the first Democratic debates last month.

According to a Quinnipiac Poll released July 2, Biden was polling at 22%, with Harris close behind him with 20%. Harris saw a huge gain in support after clashing with Biden over his past stances on busing and comments he made about working with segregationists.

During the following week, both presidential hopefuls visited South Carolina. During a stop in Sumter, Biden apologized for some of his comments.

“Was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was. I regret it,” Biden said. “I’m sorry for any of the pain or misconception I may have caused anybody.”

Other highlights from the Fox News poll of S.C. Democratic primary voters:

20% of respondents said they did not yet know who they supported.

About 34% said Biden would be better at tackling race-related issues than other Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination.

About 83% said they would be satisfied with Biden as the nominee, while 73% said the same for Sanders, and 68% said the same for Harris.

Fox’s poll of South Carolina voters had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points and was conducted July 7-10.

Follow more of our reporting on First in the South

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Emily Bohatch helps cover South Carolina’s government for The State. She also updates The State’s databases. Her accomplishments include winning a Green Eyeshade award in Disaster Reporting in 2018 for her teamwork reporting on Hurricane Irma. She has a degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish from Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.
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