Poll finds Sanders opening huge lead in California

A new poll finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (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 Warren (D-Mass.) at 17 percent, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at 12 percent, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 11 percent, former Vice President Joe Biden at 8 percent and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) at 6 percent.

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

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.

“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.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders California Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Michael Bloomberg Pete Buttigieg Super Tuesday
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