This morning, Julian Castro announced that he would suspend his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, becoming the most recent politician to drop out since California senator Kamala Harris exited the race in early December. Castro, who served as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama, polled at about 1 percent in national surveys throughout his campaign and failed to qualify for the December debate.
As lower-tier candidates bow out of the primary one by one, national polls continue to indicate a four-way race between frontrunner Joe Biden; Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who have been competing closely for the second-place slot; and Pete Buttigieg, who trails the top-three candidates and sits in the high single digits.
But national polls don’t tell the whole story. Though Biden has a consistent and fairly substantial lead on his competitors in those surveys, he lags behind in polls of states with early primaries or caucuses.
In Iowa, for instance, which holds its caucuses on February 3, first Warren then Buttigieg have managed to snag the lead from Biden. The latest poll, from Iowa State University in mid December, put Biden in fourth place with 15 percent, trailing frontrunner Buttigieg (24 percent), Sanders (21 percent), and Warren (18 percent).
Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, which has a February 11 primary, Buttigieg and Sanders are in close contention for the lead. The RealClearPolitics polling average for the state puts Sanders at 19 percent and Buttigieg at 17.7 percent, with Biden and Warren falling behind at 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
It’s in South Carolina and Nevada, both of which have primaries later in February, where the former vice president remains the frontrunner. Biden has held a consistent edge of a few points in Nevada polls since he entered the race, and in South Carolina, he spent most of last year running away with the race, leading by double digits in every poll save the most recent, a Post and Courier survey that showed him ahead of Sanders by seven points.
It’s all well and good for Biden that Democratic voters across the country continue to prefer him over the rest of the field, but with three competitors closing in, state polls give the former vice president plenty to worry about.