Politics

Biden will head to South Carolina on New Hampshire primary night as his poll numbers tank

Key Points
  • Joe Biden will head to South Carolina as results from Tuesday's New Hampshire primary come in.
  • The former vice president has trailed Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, and is in a close race with Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar for third place in New Hampshire, according to recent polls.
  • Biden has consistently led in surveys of South Carolina, which holds its primary Feb. 29.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden leaves a campaign event in Somersworth, New Hampshire, February 5, 2020.
Rick Wilking | Reuters

Former Vice President Joe Biden will travel to South Carolina on Tuesday night, while New Hampshire Democratic primary results come in, as polls show his support waning in early nominating states and nationwide.

Candidates typically hold election night events in states that just cast votes. All of Biden's rivals for the presidential nomination plan to gather with supporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday night.

But as polls show Biden struggling to even crack the third place spot in the Granite State, he heads to South Carolina, where he has led just about every survey ahead of its Feb. 29 primary.

The move signals the Biden campaign sees South Carolina — where the former vice president has enjoyed a comfortable lead among black voters — as critical to reviving a faltering operation. Two new polls this week have found Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., comfortably leading Biden among Democratic voters nationally.

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What could be next for Joe Biden's presidential candidacy post NH

Speaking to reporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday morning, Biden said "this race isn't over" noting a "significant portion" of the electorate has not voted yet. The one-time Democratic front-runner, who recently telegraphed a poor New Hampshire performance, said, "we're still mildly hopeful here in New Hampshire."

When asked if South Carolina was "do or die" for his campaign, Biden responded, "No, I don't think so."

"Look, the rest of the nation is out there. There's an awful lot of electoral votes to be had," he said.

Later Tuesday, as reporters shouted questions and one held a microphone near him, Biden reportedly said: "I'm not giving up on New Hampshire! And don't poke that in my face, OK buddy?"

Biden has run a campaign centered on his ability to beat President Donald Trump in November's general election. But voters in the small, predominantly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire have so far appeared to prefer their alternatives.

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg left last week's messy Iowa caucuses with the most allocated national delegates, followed closely by Sanders. Biden finished a distant fourth, according to the Iowa Democratic Party's results that contained some apparent inconsistencies.

The Vermont senator has led the vast majority of recent polls of New Hampshire, followed by Buttigieg.

The Biden campaign will hold the Tuesday event, which it called a "launch party," in Columbia, South Carolina. Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat, initially planned to headline it without Biden.

Biden said he still plans to go to Nevada next week ahead of its Feb. 22 caucuses. The next Democratic debate will take place in Las Vegas on Feb. 19.

Biden has narrowly led Sanders in an average of Nevada polls, but surveys have been limited in recent weeks.