After winning the popular vote in Iowa, winning the New Hampshire primary, and coasting to a commanding victory in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has emerged as the clear front-runner in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.
According to a new poll from University of Wisconsin-Madison Elections Research Center, Sanders is dominant in three key battleground states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In each of the three states, registered voters who plan to vote in the Democratic primary are more likely to choose Sanders than any other White House hopeful.
In Michigan, the Vermont senator is in first place with 25 percent of the vote. Former Vice President Joe Biden is in a distant second, with 16 percent support. Biden is followed by billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at 15 percent and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 13 percent. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is polling at 11 percent, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is at 8 percent.
In Pennsylvania, Sanders holds a five-point lead over Biden, who is at 20 percent. Bloomberg is close behind with 19 percent. Buttigieg is polling at 12 percent, Warren at 9 percent, and Klobuchar at 5 percent.
Sanders is virtually untouchable in Wisconsin, where he is polling at 30 percent. The rest of the field is competing for second place, with all the other candidates hovering between nine and 13 percentage points.
In all three states, it is younger voters that are carrying Sanders to victory. Fifty-five percent of those younger than 30-years-old support him, as does 39 percent of voters ages 30-45. Among voters between the ages of 45- and 64-years-old, 21 percent support Sanders. The senator is unpopular with voters older than 65-years-old, as only 9 percent support him.
Combining the three states, voters differ in their choices by race. Biden is the leader among black voters, and Sanders is the top choice of Latinos and white voters.
As Barry Burden, a political science professor and director of the Elections Research Center explained, Sanders is "well positioned to pick up the lion's share of delegates in these states unless another Democrats breaks away from the pack to challenge him."
Although he is not as dominant as in the primary, in general election matchups against President Donald Trump, Sanders does better than any other candidate. In Michigan, the Vermont senator holds a seven-point advantage over the president. He has a two-point advantage in Pennsylvania, as well as in Wisconsin.
According to Burden, "all three states are up for grabs in 2020."
"Trump is in a more difficult position in Michigan than the other two states, but each of the Midwest battlegrounds could be won by either party, almost regardless of who becomes the Democratic nominee," he said.