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Bernie Sanders leads in California, could have a big delegate haul: Poll

Bloomberg Washington DC | Updated on February 21, 2020 Published on February 21, 2020

Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont and 2020 presidential candidate, addresses his supporters (File photo)   -  Bloomberg

Roughly one-fourth of the likely Democratic voters in California back Bernie Sanders, but he could walk away with as many as half of the state's delegates on Super Tuesday, a poll released on Thursday shows.

In the Monmouth University poll, the Vermont senator was backed by 24 per cent of likely voters in California’s March 3 primary, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden at 17 per cent.

But, if the vote tracks with the polling numbers, those results would not mean delegates would be distributed that way. California requires candidates get at least 15 per cent of the vote to win delegates which are awarded state-wide, as well as from each of its 53 congressional districts.

Trouble for canidates?

The poll showed six other candidates had not reached that threshold: Michael Bloomberg at 13 per cent, Elizabeth Warren at 10 per cent and Pete Buttigieg at 9 per cent were closest. Tom Steyer at 5 per cent, Amy Klobuchar at 4 per cent and Tulsi Gabbard at 2 per cent were not even close. And 13 per cent of voters said they were undecided.

California is among 14 states and territories that vote on Super Tuesday. It is the biggest prize on that day, awarding 10 per cent of the delegates needed to secure the Democratic presidential nomination.

No pollster has tried to determine how support is distributed by the individual congressional districts. Some candidates have targeted specific areas of the state for outreach so its impossible to say how the delegates will end up being distributed beforehand.

But the pollster said the low numbers state-wide portend trouble for those in the back of the pack.

“As the poll currently stands, its possible that only two or three candidates reach viability in any given congressional district,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The poll of 408 likely voters in California was conducted February 16-19. The margin of error was 4.9 percentage points.

Published on February 21, 2020
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