A new poll released Thursday brings potentially devastating news for Bernie Sanders. The former Democratic front-runner now trails former Vice President Joe Biden by a 45-delegate margin, according to a New York Times count as of Thursday morning. Sanders fell behind in delegates after a losing 10 of the 14 states that voted on Super Tuesday.
The Vermont senator will now need to a strong performance on March 17 in the next primary state to offer a sizable delegate haul — Florida. That state’s 219 delegates make it the second-biggest prize remaining in the primary race, behind only New York, which does not vote until April 28.
According to the poll of Florida Democrats taken by St. Pete Polls and commissioned by Florida Politics, Sanders is headed for a crushing defeat in the Sunshine State, one that could effectively end his chances at taking the Democratic nomination.
According to the new poll, a whopping 61 percent of Florida Democratic voters say that they plan to cast their ballots for Biden on March 17. A mere 12 percent favored Sanders, according to the Florida Politics poll. If that number holds, Sanders would fall below the 15 percent “viability” cutoff and depart Florida with no statewide delegates at all.
Voters who would have otherwise chosen Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren could provide some benefit for Sanders, however. The Florida Politics poll was taken before Warren’s announcement on Thursday that she is withdrawing from the 2020 Democratic presidential race. Warren garnered 5 percent support in the poll.
In other words, if the poll proves accurate, Sanders would need to win the votes of four out of every five Warren supporters in order just to reach the viability threshold in Florida.
The only other candidate remaining in the race after Thursday, Hawaii House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, did not receive any support, according to the Florida Politics poll.
If Biden continues the pace that he set on Super Tuesday and goes on to capture the Democratic nomination, he will face incumbent Donald Trump in the November general election — meaning that Biden would likely need to win the state of Florida and its 29 electoral votes to take the White House.
Polls show that Biden currently leads Trump in Florida, though by only a slim margin. According to a University of North Florida poll released on February 19 — the most recent head-to-head general election poll in the state — Biden held a one-point lead over Trump. In the Real Clear Politics average of all polls, Biden leads Trump by 1.7 percentage points.
Sanders also leads Trump in Florida, but by only 0.3 points in the RCP average, making the Sanders-Trump race there effectively a statistical tie.