Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont won the popular vote in Iowa, won the New Hampshire primary, and cruised to a landslide victory in Nevada. This series of victories did wonders for him across the country, polling suggests, with voters jumping on the Sanders bandwagon as other candidates continue to fade away.
A new Fox News poll released Thursday confirms that Sanders is indeed the undisputed Democratic Party frontrunner. Sanders has gained eight percentage points since Fox News’ January poll, and former Vice President Joe Biden — his main competitor in the primary race — has lost the same amount of support.
Nationwide, according to the poll, Sanders is at 31 percent, and Biden is at 18 percent. Breathing down Biden’s neck is billionaire and former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, who is polling at 16 percent, up six points since January.
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in fourth place, with 12 percent support — up five points since the network’s January survey. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has lost support, dropping from 14 percentage points in January to 10 percent now.
As other polls have suggested, Sanders performs well with various demographic groups — but there nevertheless seems to be an age divide, with younger voters backing him, and older, more traditionally-minded voters opting for Biden.
“Sanders performs well with groups across the board, with an extra boost from young voters, self-described liberals, whites without a college degree, and those looking for change. Biden is strongest among women over age 45, voters who regularly attend religious services, and those who long for a return to the pre-Trump era.”
Victories in early primary states appear to have convinced voters that Sanders is electable, and he is now seen as the best candidate to take on President Donald Trump in November. According to the poll, 65 percent of voters believe the Vermont senator can beat Trump.
A full 57 percent of Democrats think Bloomberg can beat Trump, and 56 percent think the same of Biden. Only 37 percent of Democrats believe Warren would be able to beat Trump. Thirty six percent think Buttigieg would be a strong general election candidate.
What could conceivably slow down Sanders’ momentum is a Biden blowout in South Carolina. In the Palmetto State, the former vice president has taken a formidable, double-digit lead. According to latest Emerson College survey, Biden — who underperformed in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada — is polling at 41 percent, 16 percentage points ahead of Sanders.
According to Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson College Polling, “South Carolina looks like it will be the strong firewall Biden has been waiting for. If this is the case, the question will be if this is a game-changer or merely a speed bump for Sanders on his way to the nomination.”