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Bernie Sanders passes Joe Biden with black voters, increases overall lead nationally: poll

Building momentum

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has caught up with former Vice President Joe Biden with the one demographic Biden has been counting on above all others to win the Democratic presidential nomination — black voters.

Don't worry about the fourth-place finish in Iowa, or the fifth-place finish in New Hampshire, the Biden campaign assured supporters, because when black voters get involved in Nevada and South Carolina, things will look different.

Biden indeed finished better in Nevada, coming in a rather distant second to Sanders. But Biden needs to win South Carolina, where a majority of voters are black. That primary is increasingly in doubt for Biden as Sanders passes up the former vice president with black voters nationally, according to a new Morning Consult poll.

Sanders leads overall with 32% of voters supporting the socialist as their first choice, followed by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg at 19% and Biden at 18%. It's worth noting that a disastrous debate performance only cost Bloomberg one percentage point from where he stood before the Nevada debate.

Sanders leads nationally among black voters with 33% to Biden's 29%, within that subsection's 4% margin of error.

The new numbers may indicate that as Sanders wins primaries, Democratic voters are getting more comfortable with the idea of Sanders as their nominee to face President Donald Trump in November, despite concerns from establishment Democrats and media about the overall electability of a socialist. From the Morning Consult poll:

With Biden at his lowest point since Morning Consult began tracking the race, and no moderate contender solidifying support, Democratic primary voters are increasingly coming to terms with the possibility that Sanders could lead the ticket in November. Among the 69 percent who correctly identified Sanders as the winner in Nevada, a 43 percent plurality said they expect him to be the party's nominee, up 11 points from the post-New Hampshire poll.

The next Democratic debate is Tuesday in South Carolina and will feature Sanders, Biden, and Bloomberg, along with Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Tom Steyer, who returns to the stage after having failed to qualify for the Nevada debate.

One last thing…
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