Even as Buttigieg remains in contention to win the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, his failure to gain traction with Democrats of color looks set to arrest any momentum he hopes to generate when the 2020 race leaves those mostly white states. Questions about his weakness among black voters even trailed Buttigieg through Iowa during five days of town halls there last week.

“If he does well in Iowa, I don’t see [Buttigieg] as dead on arrival here, but he’s certainly on life support in South Carolina,” said state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, an influential state lawmaker who has not endorsed in the 2020 primary.

It’s not for lack of “fishing” for support, but “folks aren’t biting,” said Brady Quirk-Garvan, a former chairman of the Charleston Democrats who endorsed Sen. Cory Booker before Booker dropped out of the presidential race earlier this month. “When you’ve dropped that much money and you aren’t seeing movement, then that says something about where your base of support is.”