What to watch a month out from North Carolina’s Super Tuesday Primary
Public Policy Polling (PPP), a left-leaning pollster, recently released a North Carolina poll showing former Vice President Joe Biden leading the Democratic presidential race with 25 percent to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with 16 percent. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, is at 14 percent. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) shows 12 percent, and Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is at 9 percent.
These results are stunningly similar to a Civitas Institute poll conducted in August of last year that showed Bernie Sanders at 15 percent, Elizabeth Warren at 13 percent, and Pete Buttigieg at 5 percent. The Civitas Poll occurred before Bloomberg entered the race. All these polls show Biden on a slow, steady decline.
Bloomberg hopes to become the Democrats’ “moderate” choice if Biden continues to fall, and Buttigieg has not broken out of the pack.
In Friday night’s New Hampshire Debate, Biden conceded he is unlikely to perform well in the Live Free or Die State.
The four latest polls released Sunday, just two days before New Hampshire’s first in the nation primary, on February 11th show Sanders leading Pete Buttigieg with Warren, Biden and Klobuchar significantly trailing the two front runners and all virtually tied for third, fourth and fifth.
Biden hopes to hang on through New Hampshire, the Nevada Caucus and rebound with a South Carolina victory. However, Biden’s early stumbles have pundits speculating that late, but well-funded entry of Michael Bloomberg now has a real shot at success.
Some interesting insights into how North Carolina’s Democratic primary might shake-out can likely be gleaned from South Carolina’s primary on February 29th.
Although Bloomberg is not competing in South Carolina, Tom Steyer is.
According to the New York Times, billionaire Tom Steyer is spending millions of dollars to court black voters, an electorate that is crucial to success in the state:
“Mr. Steyer, the hedge-fund billionaire from California, is tapping into his vast wealth to lavish money on black businesses, hire dozens of African-American staff members and spend generously with black-owned news organizations. It’s part of a campaign buying blitz that has put South Carolina awash in Steyer money as he also blankets the state with millions in advertisements and mailings, making him nearly omnipresent in the state while other campaigns have barely begun to invest financially.”
On February 2, the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier-Change Research poll showed Biden at 25 percent to Sanders’s 20 percent with Tom Steyer, at 18 percent. Four South Carolina polls taken since January show Mr. Steyer ranging from 15-19 percent with his current Real Clear Politics average sitting at 18.5 percent.
Can Steyer perform that well by flooding the local television airwaves and mailboxes while skipping several of the early contests making him absent in much of the national news coverage and cable debate?
If Steyer drops to 14 percent or lower, it might show that television, digital media, direct mail, and even localized ground games can only go so far. The news coverage generated momentum that only winners and high performers receive might simply overtake the localized purchased media and campaign efforts.
At a minimum Tom Steyer’s efforts in South Carolina are a good test case of how the Bloomberg strategy might preform a few days later in North Carolina and other March 3rd Super Tuesday states.
South Carolina has long been considered the Biden firewall due to his alleged support of African Americans, but there is a key difference between South and North Carolina.
To gauge if a candidate will compete in both Carolinas, watch for television spending in the Charlotte, and Asheville-Greenville-Spartanburg television markets, which cover important areas of both states.