KEY POINTS

  • Sanders now polling highest among black Americans, passing Biden
  • Biden's lead in South Carolina has narrowed, with Sanders trailing by 4 percent
  • Biden's campaign had expected to thrive in the South among minorities

During the contest to win the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party, former Vice President Joe Biden had long enjoyed the overwhelming support of black voters. That, however, is no longer the case as a new poll shows Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., surging past Biden among this group.

A recent survey from Reuters – Ipsos finds that, for the first time, Sanders’ nationwide support among black Americans has risen to 26 percent, a 7 point jump compared to earlier in February. Biden is now trailing with this group, having lost 10 points to settle at 23 percent support.

This rapid shift in support could further push Biden’s campaign into crisis mode, as this previously reliable base of support is quickly evaporating. These new figures are especially troubling for Biden, as the presidential hopeful had no doubt been counting on picking up a large number of delegates from states in the South, where black and minority voters make up a significant number of Democrats.

This is reflected in recent polling in the next state set to primary, South Carolina. A recent NBC – Marist College poll conducted in the southern state found that Biden’s once massive lead has now all but disappeared; Biden is now polling at 27 percent with Sanders closely behind at 23 percent.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also enjoyed a polling boost among black voters according to the new poll which found the candidate had gained 10 points, placing him behind Biden by just 3 points at 20 percent.

This shift is especially curious despite Bloomberg’s campaign coming under fire in recent weeks for a variety of controversial past statements and behaviors, including his staunch defense of “stop and frisk” policing in New York City during his time as mayor. Several recordings have surfaced in recent weeks in which the presidential hopeful argued that use of stop and frisk was a necessary evil, even if it disproportionately affected minorities.

Sanders’ campaign surge isn’t limited to black Americans though. Since the end of the last year, polls have shown his support expanding among most American voting groups; this latest poll shows Sanders holding the front runner spot at 25 percent support, with Biden and Bloomberg wrestling for second place with 13 and 14 percent, respectively.

South Carolina is set to primary this Saturday. It remains to be seen whether Biden will be able to pick up some much needed delegates after a poor showing so far.

Senator Bernie Sanders celebrates with supporters after US networks declare him winner of the New Hampshire primary, a critical early test in the Democratic battle for the right to face President Donald Trump in November Senator Bernie Sanders celebrates with supporters after US networks declare him winner of the New Hampshire primary, a critical early test in the Democratic battle for the right to face President Donald Trump in November Photo: AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY