Sanders Looking Golden in the Once-Golden State

The Berkeley-IGS poll, overseen by my former office suite-mate and first rate pollster Mark DiCamillo, is out with new numbers today showing Bernie Sanders running away with the California primary next week, where 415 delegates are at stake:

Sanders is now the choice of 34% of likely voters in the primary, twice the support of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, his nearest rival who is preferred by 17%.  Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg receives 12% and former South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 11%.  Further back are former Vice President Joe Biden at 8% and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar at 6%.  Another 5% of voters are supporting other candidates and 7% remain undecided.

The fractured nature of vote support for Sanders’ rivals has big implications with regard to how the state’s 415 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention are allocated to the candidates. This is because under California’s delegate allocation rules a candidate must receive at least a 15% share of the vote statewide or within the state’s 53 congressional districts to be awarded delegates. Sanders’ current 34% share of the statewide vote virtually assures that he will achieve the 15% threshold not only statewide but across virtually all congressional districts.  By contrast, the current support levels of Sanders’ rivals place each in jeopardy of falling below this threshold across these constituencies.  This situation gives Sanders an excellent chance of capturing the lion’s share of the state’s 415 pledged delegates.

The most interesting wrinkle here is that Sanders is narrowly leading Warren right now in polls in Massachusetts, which also votes on Tuesday. It is thought that a Sanders win in Massachusetts would finish off Warren, since losing her own home state would be a large embarrassment. However, if these California poll results hold up, Warren will be the only other candidate to get any delegates out of California, which will give her a reason to stay in.

But the additional wrinkle is that because California’s results won’t come in until nearly midnight on the east coast, a Sanders win in Massachusetts will have both the TV and early-deadline print media hyping the fact that Warren has been dealt a fatal blow. Fun times!

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