State News

Sanders new Democratic frontrunner according to new local poll

U.S. Sen. Bernier Sanders, D-Vt., surpassed former Vice President Joe Biden as the favorite for the Democratic nomination in a new poll administered by the UW-Madison Elections Research Center and Wisconsin State Journal. 

U.S. Sen. Bernier Sanders, D-Vt., surpassed former Vice President Joe Biden as the favorite for the Democratic nomination in a new poll administered by the UW-Madison Elections Research Center and Wisconsin State Journal. 

Image By: Jessi Schoville

Fresh off a victory in the Nevada primary, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., finished atop the leaderboard of candidates in a preliminary statewide poll of Wisconsin’s Democratic primary race.  

“Bernie Sanders is clearly the leader among Democrats,” UW-Madison Political Science Professor Barry Burden told the Wisconsin State Journal. “He has a pretty commanding position.” 

YouGov — a polling service that has worked with news outlets like CBS News and the Economist — administered the poll from Feb. 11-20.

The UW-Madison Elections Research Center, in partnership with the State Journal, administered the Wisconsin poll as the first of its three 2020 battleground surveys, which also included data from Michigan and Pennsylvania — two other pivotal states ahead of the November presidential election. 

Since 1992, Democratic candidates won the electoral college vote in all three states, but in 2016 all three switched their support to the Republicans. 

Sanders accrued 30 percent of Wisconsin voters who registered and intend to vote in the April 7 primary. The other top-five candidates in the Democratic field ranged from 9 to 13 percent. 

The Vermont Senator also finished ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden in both Michigan and Pennsylvania by a 9 and 5 percent margin, respectively. 

Other notable results in Wisconsin revealed a declining support for Biden and a surge by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to finish in a second place tie with the former Vice President. 

“Sanders is well positioned to pick up the lion’s share of delegates in these states unless another Democrat breaks away from the pack to challenge him, Burden — who also directs the ERC — said in a press release.

Sanders drew most of his support from younger generations. Fifty-five percent of voters aged 18-29 picked the Vermont senator, while only 9 percent of voters aged 65-and-over preferred Sanders, according to survey data.

National trends reflected the in-state swap in support between Biden and Sanders. A January poll conducted by Marquette University Law School showed Biden in the lead at 23 percent versus Sanders’ 19 percent. 

After underwhelming performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, however, Biden’s support dipped to just 12.9 percent a month later.

Biden finished slightly below Bloomberg who received 13.2 percent of the vote — though they remain statistically tied — after the former mayor hovered around 6 percent in the Marquette poll, according to the State Journal. 

Bloomberg’s recent success, however, does not account for his debut performance in the Nevada Democratic debate that political commentators and pundits labeled as a disappointment. The debate occurred toward the end of the polling period. 

FiveThirtyEight attributed some of Bloomberg’s increased support to his media exposure, funded by his vast fortune. 

Even as Sanders led the vote in all three states, the ERC provided general election forecasts in the individual states that illustrated a slight advantage for Democratic candidates across the board against incumbent President Donald Trump. 

As margins remain within 1 to 2 percent, none “of these key states will be easily won by either party,” according to the release.

“All three states are up for grabs in 2020,” Burden said in the release. “Trump is in a more difficult position 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.”

Survey data indicated that 34 percent of voters who intend to vote in the upcoming Democratic primary said they support a particular candidate because their policies most aligned with individual voter preferences. Only 20 percent said the candidate stood the best chance against President Trump. 

On a similar note, 63 percent of voters who intend to participate in the Republican primary said they could not identify the most suitable Democratic candidate to unseat the president.

Another question posited by the survey asked whether the country was ready to elect a female president. Eighty percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents and only 47 percent of Republicans agreed. 

The survey also measured President Trump’s approval rating and the overall direction of the country.

In Wisconsin specifically, 43 percent of respondents said they “strongly disagree” with President Trump’s performance as opposed to 29 percent indicating they “strongly agreed.”

Fifty-three percent of the 1,000 polled Wisconsin residents also said the United States is headed on the “wrong track.”

The April 7 primary will decide multiple state and local positions, but also in who the 84 democratic delegates could potentially support at the July national convention in Milwaukee.  

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