Poll: Biden holds massive lead over Sanders in Florida

Former Vice President Joe Biden has amassed a staggering 49-point lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in Florida ahead of the state’s March 17 Democratic presidential primary, according to a survey released on Thursday by St. Pete Polls.

The poll shows Biden leading the pack of candidates with about 61 percent support in the Sunshine State. His nearest rival in the poll, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, registered at 13.5 percent. Bloomberg ended his campaign on Wednesday after a poor showing on Super Tuesday and has since endorsed Biden. 

Sanders notched only 12 percent in the poll, just about on par with the 13 percent he scored in a similar St. Pete Polls survey released last week. 

Since the previous St. Pete Polls survey, Biden scored a decisive victory in the South Carolina primary, his top moderate rivals ended their presidential bids and he scored victories against Sanders across 10 Super Tuesday states. 

Those recent developments appear to have been a massive boon for Biden in Florida, one of the most delegate-rich states of the campaign and a key general election battleground that Democrats are eager to capture in November. 

To be sure, polls are not predictive, but rather capture a particular moment in the campaign. Still, if Biden emerges from the state’s primary later this month with such a massive share of the vote and no other candidate manages to notch at least 15 percent, the former vice president would walk away with all of Florida’s 219 pledged delegates.

With Bloomberg’s decision on Wednesday to drop out of the presidential race, Biden appears poised to pick up the former mayor’s supporters. In addition to getting Bloomberg’s endorsement, the two candidates occupied a similar moderate lane in the primary contest and may appeal to many of the same voters.

The St. Pete Polls survey also shows Biden with wide leads over his opponents among key voting blocs. Among black voters, who made up about a quarter of Florida’s Democratic primary in 2016, about 69 percent said they support the former vice president. 

He also has majority support — about 60 percent — from Hispanic voters, who made up about 20 percent of the Democratic primary electorate four years ago. 

Sanders has performed well among Latino voters in other parts of the country, like California and Texas. But the poll from Florida shows his support among those voters declining. 

The St. Pete Polls survey released last week showed him with more than 19 percent support among Hispanic voters in the Sunshine State. The poll released on Thursday, however, shows that support dropping to single digits at 8.5 percent.

That drop may reflect the backlash to comments Sanders made last month praising the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s investments in health care and literacy. Those remarks are seen as particularly taboo in Florida, where hundreds of thousands of Cuban refugees fled following the revolution that put Castro in power.

In another worrisome sign for Sanders, the poll shows him with only about 13.5 percent support among voters between the ages of 18 and 29 in Florida. In many other parts of the country, the Vermont senator leads among those voters. 

The St. Pete Polls survey included responses from 1,882 likely Democratic primary voters in Florida. It was conducted on March 4, the day after Super Tuesday. It has a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points.

Tags 2020 election Bernie Sanders Democratic primary Florida primary Joe Biden Michael Bloomberg

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