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In South Carolina, where African Americans will make up a majority of Democratic electorate in Saturday's primary, the commanding 20 percentage-point lead Biden enjoyed last fall has been whittled to less than 4 points over Sanders in polling averages.
Clay Middleton, a Democratic strategist who ran Clinton's campaign in South Carolina, was planning to vote early for Biden two weeks ago — but he then decided to hold off. "I don't know what it was. It just didn't feel right," he said.
Now he wants to wait and see what happens in Tuesday's debate here. "I'm undecided," he said. "My wife is undecided. My immediate family and good friends are all undecided."
That could spell trouble for Biden in a state that is supposed to be his firewall, and it focuses attention on his performance in the coming debate.