Poll: Democrats want Sanders to stay in through the convention

A majority of Democrats say presidential candidate Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Booker seeks dialogue about race as he kicks off 2020 campaign Capitalism: The known ideal MORE should stay in the race through the party’s national convention in Philadelphia in July, a new poll finds.

Fifty-seven percent of Democrats said Sanders should stay in the race until the summer nominating event, according to an NBC News-Survey Monkey poll released Tuesday.

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Only 25 percent said he should drop out after the last votes are cast on June 14 in the final Democratic primary in Washington, D.C. Sixteen percent said Sanders should drop out now.

Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRoger Stone shares, quickly deletes Instagram photo of federal judge on his case Barack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Why the national emergency? A second term may be Trump’s only shield from an indictment MORE leads Sanders by about 300 delegates, with just over 1,000 still up for grabs. Because Democrats award their delegates proportionately, Sanders would have to defeat Clinton by huge margins in the remaining states to catch her.

Even if he does, which is unlikely, Clinton has a huge lead among superdelegates who have pledged to support her at the convention. Those votes are likely to put her over the top for the nomination.

Clinton’s allies are, for the most part, not calling for Sanders to drop out now. They believe he’s earned the right to campaign until the final votes are cast but are hopeful he’ll then rally his supporters behind Clinton at the convention.

Democrats are closely watching the tone Sanders takes with Clinton, hoping he’ll rein in his attacks so as not to damage her for the general election.

But Sanders’s remarks over the weekend that he intends to continue pressuring superdelegates to switch their allegiance from Clinton and turn the nominating process into a floor fight infuriated some of Clinton’s allies.

Sanders argues that since Clinton will need superdelegates to seal the nomination, the convention will be open and contested.

“The convention will be a contested contest,” Sanders said on Sunday.

“We intend to fight for every vote in front of us and for every delegate remaining.”

Clinton’s allies point to 2008, when then-Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGovernment's misguided holiday to celebrate itself Virginia can be better than this Democrats have a chance of beating Trump with Julian Castro on the 2020 ticket MORE (D-Ill.) had a smaller lead over Clinton than she has now over Sanders. Clinton conceded to Obama after the final primaries rather than fight him for superdelegates at the convention.

The poll found 89 percent of Sanders supporters believe he should stay in through the convention, with only 10 percent saying he should drop out if he trails after the last primary.

Clinton supporters are divided in the poll. Forty percent say Sanders should drop out after the final primaries; 30 percent say he should drop out now; and 28 percent say he should stay in the race through the convention. 

The NBC News-Survey Monkey poll of 12,462 registered voters was conducted between April 25 and May 1 and has a margin of error of 1.2 percentage points.