Former Vice President Joe Biden rejected claims that his campaign is on the ropes as it looked like he would suffer another loss in New Hampshire.
As votes were still being cast on Tuesday, Biden announced that he was leaving the state to attend a “launch party” in South Carolina — which the Biden campaign has seen as its firewall due to the state’s diverse electorate.
For most of the campaign, Biden touted polls that showed African American supporters overwhelmingly supported him. However, a recent Quinnipiac poll found that Biden’s support among African American voters dropped from 49% to 27% since the Iowa caucuses.
Trying to reassure supporters that his campaign was still viable, Biden downplayed the significance of his losses in Iowa and New Hampshire by reminding supporters that there are still 48 states left to hold primaries.
“We just heard from the first two of 50 states. Two of them. Not all the nation, not half the nation, not a quarter of the nation, not ten percent — two,” Biden told supporters in Columbia, South Carolina, adding, “Where I come from, that’s an opening bell.”
Additionally, he told supporters, “It ain’t over, man,” noting that the overwhelming majority of African American and Latino voters across the country had yet to cast votes in primaries.
While Biden tried to reassure supporters, members of his campaign staff privately fretted about his electoral prospects.
“I think we’re going to make it to South Carolina. I know we’re supposed to say we’re going to, and we’re going to win. But I just don’t know,” an unnamed Biden staffer said, according to POLITICO.
Biden has been banking on South Carolina to stop the bleeding and revive his campaign. In a bright spot for Biden, the latest polls from that state show Biden leading the pack. However, the most recent poll was conducted the last week of January — before the Iowa caucuses — so it’s possible those numbers will change after the first two primary contests.
It’s still too early to tell how, if at all, Biden’s fifth-place finish in New Hampshire would impact his support in Nevada and South Carolina.
However, Kate Bedingfield, the deputy campaign manager for Biden’s campaign, denied that Iowa or New Hampshire would have any bearing on voters in South Carolina.
“I don’t think people in South Carolina are going to change their allegiance or their vote based on what’s happening in [New Hampshire].”
“There’s a real sense that the first four states are part of a process, part of a package. That they are intentionally the first four because they give an opportunity from different parts of the country and for diverse voices to be part of the process,” she added.