Bernie Sanders is leading in California’s Democratic presidential primary, as Latinos and younger voters rally behind the Vermont senator, according to a Monmouth University poll released Thursday.
The survey of likely voters in the March 3 primary is consistent with other recent polls showing Sanders favored to win the biggest of 14 states holding contests on Super Tuesday. The Monmouth poll found 24% supported Sanders.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was in second place with 17%, followed by former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg with 13%; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 10%; Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., 9%; San Francisco hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer, 5%; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, 4%; and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, 2%, the poll found.
Most of the candidates could have trouble winning any of the 415 delegates at stake in California’s primary. Under party rules, candidates don’t get any delegates unless they win at least 15% of the vote statewide or in a congressional district. It takes 1,991 delegates to win the party’s presidential nomination.
“As the poll currently stands, it’s possible that only two or three candidates reach viability in any given congressional district,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in New Jersey. “That would enable Sanders to rack up half the delegates or more while only earning one-quarter of the total vote.”
The dynamics of the race remain fluid. More than a third of the likely voters who’d already decided on a candidate said there was at least some chance they would change their minds, and another 13% were still undecided, the poll found.
Among likely voters younger than 50, Sanders led with 36%, and 38% of Latinos favored Sanders.
Should some of the lower-tier candidates drop out of the race before March 3, the poll suggests support for Sanders would increase. In head-to-head matchups, likely California primary voters favor him over Biden, 44% to 36%; Bloomberg, 48% to 31%; and Buttigieg, 51% to 26%.
Electability remains a primary consideration for California’s Democratic primary voters: 63% said beating President Trump was more important in their decision than lining up with a candidate’s policy agenda. They are also optimistic about ousting Trump; 55% expect his Democratic opponent to win in November.
The survey of 408 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted by phone from Sunday through Wednesday. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.