KEY POINTS

  • A spate of polls before the South Carolina primary on February 29 shows Joe Biden winning the state big time
  • One forecast gives Biden a mammoth 94% chance of making the Palmetto State his own
  • Bernie Sanders' socialism seems to have hurt him among the state's black voters

Reminded by Oprah's BFF Gayle King Tuesday his support among African Americans in South Carolina is slipping, former vice president Joe Biden defiantly declared: "I intend to win South Carolina and I will win the African American vote here in South Carolina."

Before this affirmation, Biden also asserted, "I've worked like the devil to earn the vote of the African American community. Not just here, but across the country. I have been coming here for years and years, creating jobs here ...."

Biden's confidence seems to be supported by a new forecast from FiveThirtyEight showing Biden surging in South Carolina. Political pundits agree Biden has to win South Carolina -- where more than a fourth of the electorate is African-American -- or else it's game over for Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, wins the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Biden finished second to Sanders in the most recent contest, the Nevada caucuses on February 22. He came in a disappointing fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire. The rumor-sphere was flooded with calls for him to quit the race to save some face, and the Democratic Party, as well.

Now, however, Biden, the "Comeback Kid," can take comfort from stats showing him making a real comeback in South Carolina. And a huge one. On the eve of the Nevada fight, FiveThirtyEight forecast Sanders the frontrunner in South Carolina with a 46% (1-in-2) chance of winning the Palmetto State. The same forecast gave Biden a 40% chance (2-in-5) of winning.

Less than a week later and the forecast has been turned on its head. FiveThirtyEight now says Biden’s chances of winning have skyrocketed to 94% (14-in-15) while Sanders chances have taken the opposite route, plunging to a mere 5% (1-in-20). Sanders' pro-Fidel Castro and pro-China remarks made this week emphasized his socialist streak and hurt him among African Americans.

Most of the new polls in South Carolina also has Biden with commanding leads over Sanders and the rest of the field. One of these polls from Public Policy Polling showed Biden up 15 points. A Monmouth University poll conducted Feb. 23 to 25 has Biden at 36% percent, Sanders at 16% and billionaire Tom Steyer at 15%.

Another poll, this one by Change Research for the Charleston Post and Courier adjusted for house effects, shows Biden with 32%, Sanders 20%, Steyer, 16%, Sen Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, 9%, and former mayor Pete Buttigieg, 7%.

An Emerson College poll conducted from Feb. 26 to 27 and also adjusted for house effects shows Biden at 40% and Sanders at 20%.

As FiveThirtyEight commented: "It’s certainly odd that Biden, and not Sanders, would have gotten a bump out of a state where Sanders won nearly twice as many raw votes, but that’s what it looks like. Perhaps it is the manifestation of establishment backlash against the suddenly-real prospect of Sanders becoming the nominee."

FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver said Biden winning South Carolina will put him in good position to win on Super Tuesday on March 3. Biden can also seize many delegates from the many Southern states that vote just three days later.

His strong showing in the recent South Carolina debate and a town hall where he wowed the audience has led a big political action committee (PAC) backing him to invest in key Super Tuesday states. The Biden super PAC said it's seen a surge in high dollar contributions from donors. The PAC will first target voters in Alabama and North Carolina with radio and digital ads.