As the latest California primary polls have rolled in, it’s become clear that the state that leaned heavily Hillary Clinton just a month ago has become a hotly contested final showdown of the 2016 Democratic presidential race.
Bernie Sanders has inched his way to a California primary where Hillary does not hold a substantial lead in any of the latest polls. Due to the massive number of delegates available, it’s also been one of the most closely followed states when it comes to pre-vote polling. Unfortunately, even all that scrutiny hasn’t netted a definitive answer of what will happen in the state on Tuesday.
In the past week, three separate polls attempting to predict the results of the California primary have been released. All of them lean slightly towards Clinton, but by just two percentage points — well within the margin of error of each poll. CBS News/YouGov — which is both the most recent and largest of the polls with 674 likely voters — predicted an outcome of 49 percent Hillary, 47 percent Bernie. A separate survey, from WSJ/Marist/NBC, reflected that data. Another poll, from Field Research, also shared the same spread between the two candidates, but saw more undecided voters.
Though he hasn’t come out ahead in any of the head-to-heads yet, Sanders supporters can find comfort in the fact that the California polls will be open to independents — a quality that has been beneficial to Bernie in the past, particularly in primaries like Michigan where early numbers showed Clinton trouncing him by a significant margin.
In Hillary’s favor, the California demographic information does feature a large population of one of her biggest strongholds: Latinos. In fact, nearly 40 percent of Californians identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to the latest U.S. census data.
Although Sanders does trail behind Clinton significantly in the overall delegate count and polls, any votes that he can pick up in the California primary will work in his favor. Sanders has vowed to continue soldiering forward in the race even after the last Democratic primary election takes place on June 14 in Washington, D.C. Recently, he told a rally that he would be using remaining campaign funds to woo superdelegates even after California comes to close.
“I wonder why Secretary Clinton and her husband, Bill, are back in California? I thought we had lost and it was all over. But I guess [Hillary] is maybe looking at some polling that would suggest otherwise.”
In the tensely divided math of delegates and superdelegates, it’s hard to precisely number how many Sanders and Clinton have amassed. In some states, one candidate picked up more than his or her competitor at county conventions, which will slightly alter the final vote at the Democratic convention. Those minor changes aside, Hillary stands somewhere around 270 pledged delegates ahead of Bernie at this point in the election; but, even she lies more than 600 delegates away from automatically winning the nomination by hitting 2,383.
In addition to the latest California primary polls, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are also no doubt looking at data from the five other 2016 election states up for vote on June 7: New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. It will be the last “Super Tuesday”-size day of the Democratic race — with more than 800 delegates and superdelegates up for grabs.
[Image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]