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Poll finds Sanders opening huge lead in California

A new poll finds Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIn defense of incrementalism: A call for radical realism Thomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality Trump will soon be out of office — but polarization isn't going anywhere MORE (I-Vt.) opening up a two-to-one lead over this next closest rival in California, the critical Super Tuesday state with the most delegates at stake.

The latest Los Angeles Times-Berkeley IGS poll finds Sanders at 34 percent support, followed by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Disney laying off 32,000 workers as coronavirus batters theme parks MORE (D-Mass.) at 17 percent, former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBiden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security The secret weapon in Biden's fight against climate change Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE at 12 percent, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete Buttigieg'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' Biden's win is not a policy mandate — he should govern accordingly MORE at 11 percent, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  New DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad MORE at 8 percent and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation MORE (D-Minn.) at 6 percent.

Candidates must hit a 15 percent support threshold statewide or in congressional districts to be eligible for delegates.

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Biden is looking to jump-start his campaign in South Carolina, where a largely black electorate could bolster his stock on Saturday and increase his momentum before the Super Tuesday contests next week.

But the new California poll suggests Biden's hopes of setting himself up as an alternative to Sanders could be short-lived, as it would be disastrous for him to fall under the 15 percent threshold in the Golden State. 

Sanders led Warren by only 6 points in the same poll from January, but he’s gained momentum since winning the New Hampshire primary and Nevada caucuses.

A KQED-NPR poll released this week also found Sanders with a 17-point lead over Warren, although two surveys released earlier this month put his advantage at 7 or 8 points.

The Los Angeles Times estimates that at his current level of support, Sanders could be in line to win more than 10 percent of the 1,990 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination from California alone.

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“A month ago, our poll showed Sanders with an outright lead in California. Our latest shows that he’s been effective in consolidating that in the homestretch, while support for his rivals has become even more dispersed,” said Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll. “The net effect could provide Sanders with a huge payday from the state on Super Tuesday.”

Sanders is bolstered in the poll by Latino voters, who delivered a huge victory for him in neighboring Nevada. The survey found Sanders with 51 percent support among Latinos. He also cleans up among young voters aged 18 to 29 and Democrats who describe themselves as “very liberal.”

While his rivals have focused on the early-voting states, Sanders has turned his attention to Texas and California, the two biggest prizes on Super Tuesday.

On Sunday, Sanders will hold rallies in Los Angeles and San Jose with rap group Public Enemy, actor Dick Van Dyke and comedian Sarah Silverman.

The Sanders campaign has 105 paid staff on the ground in California working from 22 offices across the state. The campaign says it has knocked on nearly 1 million doors and has been collecting mail-in ballots at rallies to turn in to the country registrars in bulk.

Other than the billionaire candidates, none of Sanders’s rivals have been able to match his spending in Super Tuesday states, although a super PAC supporting Warren has pumped about $9 million worth of ads on to the airwaves in California.

The latest Los Angeles Times-Berkeley IGS of 3,002 likely primary voters was conducted Feb. 20-25 and has a 2 percentage point margin of error.