A poll came out today from South Carolina—the fourth primary or caucus in the 2020 Democratic primary, and the last before the all-important Super Tuesday races—and the results are not encouraging if you’re a progressive, or even if you’re not a progressive but want someone other than Joe Biden to become the nominee:
That’s an emphatic overall lead for the former vice president, and his even wider lead among black voters signals that just like Hillary Clinton, he has a good chance to coast to lopsided victories in the many southern states that frontload the primary. On Super Tuesday alone, voters in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia will head to the polls, with Georgia likely to join that group before long. In each of those states in 2016, Hillary Clinton scored a big victory, spurred on by her massive support advantage among black voters.
If Biden is the big winner of this poll, Pete Buttigieg is the one with the most to be alarmed about—his support among black voters doesn’t even register a full percentage point, which means his seemingly meteoric rise in the last month has been limited all along, and will run into a brick wall at the start of the primaries.
There is slightly more geographic balance to the 2020 primary schedule—California joins the Super Tuesday slate, for one—but at the moment, it looks like the playbook that worked so well for Clinton is going to deliver Biden similar results.
There are still seven months until voters turn out in Iowa, and that’s an eternity in politics, so in theory the old cliche of “anything can happen” applies. But there are also certain indisputable facts that tend to change less than many would think, since most voters don’t really change their minds. Almost every recent poll, whether in an individual state or for the primary as a whole, has shown Biden doubling up his nearest competitor. In order for that ground to shift, something very dramatic will have to happen to cut into Biden’s support, or the polls themselves will have to be fatally flawed.