CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Democrats in two of the country's whitest states have spoken. Now begins the battle for black voters, with the Carolinas on the front lines.
As recently as two months ago, polls suggested that Joe Biden's lead in the African American community was insurmountable, making Barack Obama's vice president the heavy favorite to win the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29 and in North Carolina three days later, on Super Tuesday, March 3.
But after Biden's distant fifth place in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary -- coming a week after finishing fourth place in Iowa -- many pundits and political scientists have begun writing his political obituary.
If Biden continues to fade, where will black voters go?
MIKE BLOOMBERG, MAYBE?
The billionaire's barrage of TV ads have cast him, not Biden, as Obama's partner on issues like gun control. And the former mayor of New York City is digging into his deep pockets to hire prominent African Americans to run his campaign in Super Tuesday states. Charlotte City Council member James Mitchell is getting paid $15,000 a month as Bloomberg's state director in North Carolina.
Bloomberg is also putting out millions of dollars around the country to advertise on black media. This week, a full-page Bloomberg ad is set to appear in The Charlotte Post and all other black-owned news sites in North Carolina.
The big spending appears to be paying off so far: A new national Quinnipiac poll found that Bloomberg's support among black voters rose from 8% before the Iowa caucuses to 22% this month. Most of that growth came at the expense of Biden, whose African American support in the same poll was nearly cut in half, from 52% to 27%.
Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Democrats have accused Bloomberg of trying to "buy" the Democratic nomination.
Not so, said Mitchell, who presses the campaign's main theme: "We're not buying the election. We're spending money to beat Trump. There's a difference."