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Biden Attempts to Revive 'Doomed' Campaign in South Carolina After Fifth Place Finish in New Hampshire

The former vice president also came in fourth place in Iowa last week.

On the day of the New Hampshire primary, a discarded Joe Biden campaign sign lies ripped on the snow at a polling location in Manchester, New Hampshire on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. (Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

After leaving New Hampshire early Tuesday while the state voted in the Democratic primary, former Vice President Joe Biden finished in a distant fifth place, winning just 8.4% of the vote in the key state.

Biden won nearly 50,000 fewer votes than first-place finisher Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) after a year-long campaign in which corporate news outlets have frequently declared the former vice president the most "electable" candidate.

The former vice president's poor showing in New Hampshire came a week after Iowa caucus-goers gave him less than 15% of the vote, finishing in fourth place.

Dave Wasserman, editor of the Cook Political Report, wondered on social media whether Biden's results were "survivable" for the campaign.

Journalist Rania Khalek slammed beltway pundits for spending months discounting Sanders' chances of primary election success and insisting Biden was the most "electable" candidate.

Biden left New Hampshire before polls closed on Tuesday to travel to South Carolina, where the Democratic primary is taking place Feb. 29. The former vice president is leading polls in the state, but has dropped behind Sanders in Nevada, where people will vote on Feb. 22.

Biden rallied black supporters in South Carolina Tuesday evening. He is still considered the frontrunner there—with a rapidly narrowing lead. 

Dismissing New Hampshire and Iowa as the "first two of 50 states," despite the fact that his campaign spent considerable time and money in the two states, Biden assured the voters that his campaign will be proven to be alive and well and in the next two primaries.

"We need to hear from Nevada and South Carolina and Super Tuesday states and beyond," Biden said.

Biden's communications director, Kate Bedingfield, echoed the candidate's remarks on MSNBC Wednesday morning.

"What happened to Middle Class Joe?" asked anchor Hallie Jackson, referring to Biden's claim that he would appeal to working families who would find him relatable.

Bedingfield replied that Iowa and New Hampshire are "more affluent" than many other states and are not as racially diverse, and that the campaign had never expected to win the two states—a claim that MSNBC correspondent Garrett Haake found "head-spinning."

"Two out of 50 states have voted," Bedingfield said. "Not half the nation, not a quarter of the nation...African American voters know him, they have a sense of who he is."

A new poll out Tuesday from Monmouth University, however, showed Sanders currently has the highest approval ratings of the candidates among voters of color. The Vermont senator has particularly high support among young black voters.

Some observers credited the Sanders campaign with its sharp focus in recent weeks on Biden's history of pushing for cuts to Social Security, for its effect on Biden's campaign.

David Sirota, Sanders' speechwriter "basically knocked Biden out of the race by himself. He just kept posting videos of [Biden] proposing to cut Social Security, and that was the end of that," tweeted podcast host Patrick Fenelon.

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