Three new polls released Friday could give Bernie Sanders at least a degree of new hope and perhaps inject some revived energy into his flagging campaign, as they show the Vermont senator closing in on frontrunner Hillary Clinton in two important states, both rich in delegates.
Also important for Sanders, with the Indiana primary not held until May 3, and the massive California vote on June 7, he has plenty of time to work on closing the gap in both states — a gap that is small enough that at least Indiana could be looked on as a virtual tie.
Sanders has best vision for Indiana, nation https://t.co/hp4hVOZX4f says Indianapolis City Councilman Adamson! #FeelTheBern @EndorseBernie
— SE Indiana 4 Bernie (@SEI4BS) April 18, 2016
— SE Indiana 4 Bernie (@SEI4BS) April 18, 2016
Indiana is also an open primary, meaning that independents who have been a particular source of strength for Sanders are allowed to vote in the Democratic primary without first needing to re-register as Democrats. For that matter, even registered Republicans could vote in the Democratic primary in Indiana, though they would be automatically re-registered as Democrats.
Sanders has also picked up some key endorsements in the state, including from an Indianapolis city council member, and from United Steelworkers Local 1999, a union now facing the loss of more than 1,000 jobs when large manufacturer Carrier Corporation shuts down local operations next year, shifting those jobs to Mexico.
In a Fox News poll released Friday, Hillary Clinton held a slim four-point lead over Bernie Sanders, 46 percent to 42.
A WTHR/Howey Politics poll showed Clinton with a three-point edge, 48 to 45. Both polls carry a four-point margin of error, meaning the races could actually be tied.
Watch a Fox News report on its new poll, in the video below.
As has been the pattern throughout the presidential primary campaign on the Democratic side, the Fox News poll showed that Clinton gains most of her support from voters who consider themselves solid members of the Democratic party. But Sanders performs better among first-time and "occasional" voters.
Indiana also shows a pronounced gender gap between voters who say they support Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. Sanders leads by a wide margin, 58-36, among Indiana men, but Clinton commands the women's vote by an even larger gap, 59-34.
Indiana Latino voters also break in Sanders' favor significantly, according to the Fox News poll. After Clinton won the Latino vote in New York last Tuesday, as well as in Florida and Texas, Sanders, who won that demographic in both Nevada and Illinois, holds a 19-point lead among Indiana Latino voters.
In California, where the 475 pledged delegates are the most of any state in the primary process — almost twice as many as in New York, the second most delegate-rich state — a new Fox News poll Friday shows Sanders only two points behind Clinton.
California Democrats hold a "modified" open primary, which means that voters who have registered with no party preference may request a Democratic primary ballot. Like Indiana and all states in the Democratic primary process, the delegates will be awarded proportionally between the two candidates, based on vote totals statewide and by congressional district.
The California poll was conducted between April 18 and April 21, and showed significantly better results for Sanders compared to a CBS News/YouGov poll taken between April 13 and 15.
The YouGov survey put Clinton 12 points ahead — and a KABC/SurveyUSA poll completed April 3 had Clinton leading Sanders by 14 points.
MORE ELECTION COVERAGE FROM THE INQUISITR:
Has Bernie Sanders really shaved 10 points off of Clinton's lead in California in just a few days? There's no way to be sure until new polls are conducted in the Golden State over the coming weeks. Those future polls will determine whether the Friday Fox News poll is a statistical outlier, or whether the tide has genuinely made a dramatic shift toward Sanders in the final primary state of the campaign.
The only bad news for Bernie Sanders is that, even if the gain reflected in the new Friday polls are the real deal, they will likely be too little, too late for his struggling campaign.
Sanders trails Hillary Clinton by 241 pledged delegates, according to the Green Papers election data site, and faces losses in at least four of five states that hold primaries on April 26, including the large, delegate-heavy states of Pennsylvania and Maryland, where polls show Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders by double-digit margins.
[Featured Photos By Justin Sullivan/Spencer Platt/Getty Images]