South Carolina in Sight

February 26, 2020 12:43 p.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

Jim Clyburn’s endorsement of Joe Biden is a big deal for South Carolina. Clyburn is the third ranking member of the House leadership and an institution in the state. Endorsements generally don’t make a huge difference. And I doubt this one will make a huge one. But we’re now all down to margins. So it’s important.

Polls generally show Biden on the upswing in the state after trending down for weeks. Biden winning seems likely. But what is the margin?

Here it’s important to remember that this is not only about Biden or Sanders. Indeed, it may not be mainly about either. A lot will come down to whether support bleeds from other candidates to those two.

South Carolina is the only state where Tom Steyer appears to be a big factor. Some polls show him tied or even ahead of Bernie Sanders and not that far behind Biden. If primary voters start to see the question as one of whether or not Sanders is the presidential nominee one can imagine a trend towards the frontrunner, Biden. That really depends on how solid and durable Steyer’s support is.

The best way to put it is that with so many candidates polling with non-trivial support levels, support can shift rapidly. Obviously relatively small margins in a single state which will never support the Democrat in November shouldn’t make that big a difference in the overall nomination. But for the reasons I explained last night, there are good reasons to think they’ll have a decisive impact on the contest overall. We’ve already seen that the results in small, single states can have a massive effects on the shape of the race.

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.

Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).

COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.). (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).

Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: