Bernie Sanders takes wide lead in California primary, new poll finds

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane, celebrate his victory Feb. 11 in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary.
(Associated Press)

Bernie Sanders has opened a wide lead in California’s Democratic presidential primary, and four rivals are virtually tied for a distant second place, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The survey by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found Sanders favored by 32% of likely voters in the March 3 primary, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden, 14%, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 13%, and two former mayors, Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., both at 12%.

The findings were particularly grim for Biden and Warren; each dropped by 10 percentage points from their standings in the institute’s poll in January. Sanders has been especially successful at consolidating support among Latinos and voters under 45 years old; a majority of both groups favored the Vermont senator, the poll found.


“As the campaign moves to larger and more diverse states, Sanders’ support among Latinos and younger voters is noteworthy,” said Mark Baldassare, president and chief executive of the public policy institute.

California is the biggest of 14 states holding primaries on Super Tuesday. At stake in California are 415 delegates to the Democratic National Convention this summer in Milwaukee. It takes 1,991 delegates to win the party’s presidential nomination.

Under party rules, candidates must win at least 15% of the vote statewide or in a congressional district to capture any of California’s delegates. The survey’s margin of sampling error was 5.7%. It was conducted Feb. 7 to 17.

Trailing far behind were Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 5% and San Francisco hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer, who was at just 3% despite spending nearly $26 million from his personal fortune on television and radio ads in the state, according to Advertising Analytics, a media tracking firm.

The poll also confirmed the trend of Bloomberg rising into the top tier of the field nationally. He has poured more than $300 million of his own money into advertising across the country. His improved poll ratings have qualified him to participate in the Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday in Las Vegas.


A national survey released Tuesday by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist found Bloomberg supported by 19% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic — second to Sanders, who led with 31%.

Another national poll from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News showed Sanders leading with 27%, followed by a quartet virtually tied for second: Biden, 15%, Bloomberg and Warren, 14%, and Buttigieg, 13%.