After winning the popular vote in Iowa and winning the New Hampshire primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont coasted to a commanding victory in Nevada. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who collapsed in all three states that Sanders won, seems poised to win in South Carolina, but Sanders is taking a commanding lead in the delegate-rich state of California.
A new poll from UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies conducted for The Los Angeles Times predicts a Sanders blowout in the Golden State. According to the poll, Sanders is at 34 percent. His closest competitor in the state, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, is in a distant second place with 17 percent support.
Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- who has spent a tremendous amount of his resources on advertisements in California -- is polling at 12 percent. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 11 percent. Biden is at 8 percent, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is supported by 6 percent of the California electorate. Billionaire Tom Steyer, who has also spent millions on advertising, is polling at 2 percent.
According to the poll, Sanders' commanding lead is the result of three key voting blocs consolidating behind him. Voters who describe themselves as "very liberal," Latinos, and young voters overwhelmingly back the Vermont senator. Fifty percent of "very liberal" voters support Sanders; 51 percent of Latinos back him; and 61 percent of voters younger than 29 plan on voting for him.As Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, explained, the poll suggests that Sanders is poised to reap the rewards of his work on Super Tuesday.
"A month ago, our poll showed Sanders with an outright lead in California. Our latest shows that he's been effective in consolidating that in the homestretch, while support for his rivals has become even more dispersed," DiCamillo said. "The net effect could provide Sanders with a huge payday from the state on Super Tuesday," he added.Winning the delegate-rich state would be a game-changer for Sanders. Based on his 34 percent support in the poll, he would get over 10 percent of the 1,991 delegates he needs to win in order to avoid a brokered convention. If the senator wins less than 51 percent of national delegates, the so-called superdelegates -- who are under no obligation to respect the popular vote -- will pick the nominee.
The survey also suggests that voters believe Sanders is the best candidate to take on President Donald Trump. Thirty-four percent of Californians believe he has the best chance to beat Trump. Seventeen percent say the same of Bloomberg, and 12 percent think Biden would be a formidable general election contender.