AP NEWS

Joe Biden still on top in South Carolina; lead down 4 points since ‘touching’ controversy: Poll

April 8, 2019

The controversy over former Vice President Joseph R. Biden overly affectionate handling of women barely dented his huge lead in the early primary state of South Carolina, according to a new poll.

Mr. Biden led the crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls with 32 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in the Palmetto State, showed a Change Research survey first reported by The Post and Currier in Charleston, South Carolina.

Though still enjoying a wide lead, Mr. Biden’s support dropped 4 points from the same poll in February.

Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont came in a distant second at 14 percent in the poll.

Former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, whose failed bid for governor last year propelled her to national prominence, scored 7 percent support for a fifth-place tie out of the 18 Democrats vying for attention in the race.

Neither Mr. Biden nor Ms. Abrams has formally in the race. Mr. Biden is expected to announce his run this month. Ms. Abrams has said a run is “definitely on the table.”

The poll was conducted March 31 to April 4, after the first of seven women came forward with complaints that they were made uncomfortable by Mr. Biden’s hands-on treatment of them at public events.

During the polling, Mr. Biden posted an online video in which he denied ill intentions and promised to stop invading people’s personal space.

“Social norms have begun to change, they’ve shifted, and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset, and I get it, I get it,” said Mr. Biden, 76.

While many voters appear to cut Mr. Biden a break, the episode sparked an intra-party debate about whether Mr. Biden was too old and out of step with current political culture.

Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California placed third with 10 percent, followed by former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey at 9 percent.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Ms. Abrams captured 7 percent.

The rest of the field got 1 percent or less in the survey.