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.