John A. Carlos II (copy)

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren addresses the South Carolina Democratic convention at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on June 22, 2019. File/John A. Carlos II/Special to The Post and Courier

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, surging nationally in recent weeks, is cutting into former Vice President Joe Biden's lead in South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary, a new poll shows.

Warren has taken leads in other early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire as Biden has struggled in debates and with questions about his son serving on foreign company boards.

Still, one constant remains: Biden is the top choice in the South's first primary.

But Biden's lead in South Carolina, which had hovered around 20 percentage points since the summer, has shrunk in a Post and Courier-Change Research poll released Thursday.

Biden received 30 percent to Warren's 19 percent.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 13 percent and California Sen. Kamala Harris at 11 percent are the only two other candidates with double-digit results in South Carolina.

Biden's support in Post and Courier-Change Research polls has fallen from a peak of 46 percent in May, soon after he formally entered the race. He lost 6 percentage points from the last poll taken in August.

Not all of his support has gone to the race's major progressive candidates. Warren gained 2 percentage points in the past two months, while Sanders lost 3 percentage points.

The biggest gains in the latest poll came from fifth- and sixth-place contenders, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer.

Buttigieg received 9 percent support, while Steyer, a constant presence on S.C. airwaves, nabbed 5 percent. Both added 4 percentage points since August.

"These are the highest numbers we’ve seen for Tom Steyer in any of our 2020 polls," Change Research co-founder Pat Reilly said. 

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang finished next at 4 percent, ahead of Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard — all at 3 percent.

The new poll arrives right before almost all of the major Democratic contenders come to Columbia for a criminal justice forum at historically black Benedict College. Republican President Donald Trump is speaking at the forum Friday, while the Democrats are appearing Saturday and Sunday.

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The latest survey shows that Biden took a hit among women, especially African-Americans, months before the Feb. 29 primary.

He lost 13 percentage points among the crucial bloc who are part of the majority of S.C. Democratic primary voters. Biden is down 10 percentage points among all S.C. women. 

Biden's "decline is coming principally from African-American women who are moving to other candidates, but notably none of other top candidates are seeing a decisive jump as a result of Biden’s decline," Reilly said.

The former vice president still leads among all African Americans, male and female voters, voters 35 and older, those with college degrees or not, and residents in all regions.

Sanders leads among younger voters, which he has done in past polls.

More S.C. Democratic voters say they would rather vote for a candidate with the best chance of beating Trump than a candidate who agrees with them on issues.

The Post and Courier-Change Research poll surveyed 731 likely S.C. Democratic primary voters from Oct. 15-21. The polls has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

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