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New Calif. Primary Poll: Sanders has Lead

Warren is in second place with likely voters

Election 2020 graphic with outline of state imposed on background image of capital building

02/21/2020

Contact: Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 (o), 978-758-4664 (c), or Christine_Gillette@uml.edu or Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is in the lead with likely voters in the California Democratic primary, according to a new poll released today. 

Sanders has a lead with likely voters over U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 24 percent to 16 percent. Close behind is former Vice President Joe Biden at 13 percent, followed by former mayors Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg, who are tied at 12 percent. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is at 7 percent, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is at 4 percent and businessman Tom Steyer is at 2 percent; 6 percent of California Democratic likely voters are undecided and 3 percent say they will vote for someone else.  

Detailed poll results – including analysis, topline and methodology – are available at www.uml.edu/polls. The nonpartisan poll is independently funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion, which conducts public-opinion polling at the state and national levels. The nationally recognized center uses the latest technology and highest standards in its surveys and is a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research’s Transparency Initiative. The center’s events and polls on political and social issues provide unique opportunities for civic engagement, experiential learning and research.  

With the California primary on Super Tuesday less than two weeks away, 32 percent of likely voters said they could still change their minds compared to 68 percent who said they are firm in their support of their chosen candidate. Eighty-one percent of Sanders supporters say they will definitely vote for him. Close behind him is Warren, with 74 percent of her supporters saying she definitely has their vote. Bloomberg follows at 68 percent and Biden is at 65 percent. The candidates whose support appears to be the softest are Buttigieg, with 40 percent of his supporters saying they will definitely for him, and Klobuchar, with 49 percent voter certainty.

Among likely voters, Sanders is supported by the largest percentage (31 percent) of those younger than 45, compared with 22 percent who favor Warren. Sanders carries 20 percent of the vote for those 45 and older, while 12 percent support Warren. Biden’s support by age is more balanced, with 15 percent among 18- to 44-year-olds and 13 percent for those over 45. 

Sanders also leads in California because of strong support from Latino likely voters (32 percent) compared to Warren (16 percent) and Biden (15 percent), according to the poll. Among white voters, however, Sanders leads by only 3 points, 21 percent to Warren’s 18 percent.  

“Bernie Sanders leads in California where he enjoys strong support from young voters and Latinos. But watch out for Elizabeth Warren. She trails by 8 and if she can parlay her strong debate performance into strong performances in Nevada and South Carolina, then she may be poised to make a play for part of the biggest delegate prize on Super Tuesday in the Golden State,” said Joshua Dyck, director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and associate professor of political science.

The poll also asked likely voters in the California Democratic primary which candidate will ultimately win the party’s nomination. Thirty-one percent said Sanders, followed by Biden with 14 percent and Bloomberg with 12 percent. However, 28 percent of voters surveyed said they are unsure.

Likely voters were also asked whether they view the candidates favorably or unfavorably. Most of the candidates have positive net favorability ratings and all of them, except for Michael Bloomberg, score above 50 percent favorability. Sanders is a net +33 (63 percent favorable, 30 percent unfavorable). Warren, who trails him, bests him in terms of favorability numbers with a +42 net favorability rating (64 percent favorable, 22 percent unfavorable). Biden is net +36 (61 percent favorable, 25 percent unfavorable), Bloomberg is +11 (45 percent favorable, 34 percent unfavorable), Buttigieg is +36 (56 percent favorable, 20 percent unfavorable) and Klobuchar is +43 (54 percent favorable, 11 percent unfavorable). Several candidates have the problem of still being relatively unknown and having more than 20 percent of voters either say they have “no opinion” of them or that they have “never heard of” of them, including Steyer (34 percent no opinion/never heard of), Klobuchar (29 percent no opinion/never heard of), Buttigieg (24 percent no opinion/never heard of) and Bloomberg (21 percent no opinion/never heard of).

The poll of 450 likely voters in the California Democratic primary was independently funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, which has more than 2,700 students and alumni who hail from the Golden State. The survey was designed and analyzed by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and fielded by YouGov from Feb. 12 through Feb. 20. It has an adjusted margin of error of plus or minus 6.7 percent. Full poll methodology is available at www.uml.edu/polls.

In addition to the survey of likely voters in California, the Center for Public Opinion also released polls in three other Super Tuesday states this week. The findings include: 

  • In Massachusetts, Sanders has the support of 21 percent of likely voters in the Massachusetts Democratic primary compared to 20 percent who support Warren. Buttigieg is in third place at 15 percent, followed by Biden at 14 percent, Bloomberg polls at 12 percent, Klobuchar is at 9 percent, Gabbard is at 3 percent and Steyer is at 2 percent; 4 percent of likely voters are undecided. (Poll of 450 likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters conducted Feb. 12 through Feb. 19 with an adjusted margin of error of plus or minus 6.1 percent.)
  • In Minnesota, Klobuchar is ahead with the support of 27 percent of likely voters, followed by Sanders at 21 percent, Warren at 16 percent, Buttigieg at 10 percent, Biden and Bloomberg tied at 9 percent. Gabbard is at 4 percent and Steyer has less than 1 percent support, with 4 percent undecided. (Poll of 450 likely Minnesota Democratic primary voters conducted Feb. 12 through Feb. 19 with an adjusted margin of error of plus or minus 6.4 percent.)
  • In North Carolina, Sanders has the edge with likely voters with 23 percent, followed by Bloomberg at 19 percent, Biden at 16 percent, Warren at 13 percent, Buttigieg at 10 percent, Klobuchar at 7 percent and Gabbard and Steyer tied at 3 percent, with 6 percent undecided. (Poll of 450 likely voters in North Carolina Democratic primary conducted Feb. 12 through Feb. 18 with an adjusted margin of error of plus or minus 6.5 percent.)
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