I touched on this earlier today in the article about Joe Biden’s “firewall,” but there really is something strange going on in South Carolina. This was brought more into focus for me after reading an article from James Joyner at Outside the Beltway today. It’s no secret that Biden’s previously massive lead in the Palmetto State has all but collapsed, and Bernie Sanders has been the largest benefactor of this shift.
But how much of a factor has Tom Steyer’s massive advertising campaign really been? Perhaps more than I first gave him credit for. And as Joyner points out, if this week sees an additional shift of only a few points, Biden could actually wind up losing the one state everyone was positive he would hold and the subsequent boost in momentum that he’ll need heading into Super Tuesday.
The CBS poll is the most recent included in the RealClearPolitics average for South Carolina and there are only three other recent surveys. But Steyer is in third place in all of them. If this bears out Saturday, Steyer’s presence on the ballot could either hand the contest to Sanders outright—effectively ending the race—or sap enough delegates from Biden to deny him any real momentum from a win.
The longer the “moderate” vote is divided among multiple candidates—and Bloomberg will join the fray in earnest on Super Tuesday—the more impossible it becomes to prevent Sanders from winning a plurality of delegates. But, as I noted yesterday, all of the candidates have an argument for remaining in the race.
All, that is, except for Steyer.