Bernie Sanders Boasts Huge Lead in State With Most Super Tuesday Delegates at Stake, Poll Shows

Senator Bernie Sanders is leading all other Democratic presidential candidates by a wide margin in California, the state with the most Super Tuesday delegates up for grabs, according to a new poll.

The University of California, Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) poll, conducted for the Los Angeles Times, found that 34 percent of 3,002 likely California primary voters (and those who have already voted) prefer Sanders. That is double the support for Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was at 17 percent.

Rounding out the poll's top five were former Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg, with 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively, and former Vice President Joe Biden, with 8 percent. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

California will be one of 14 Super Tuesday states to hold primaries on March 3 and has 415 delegates at stake, more than any other state voting that day.

Sanders' lead in the poll is largely due to support from Latinos and younger voters, as 51 percent of Latinos said they support the senator and 61 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 back him.

According to Mark DiCamillo, director of the IGS poll, the current "fractured nature" of support among the other Democrats competing in California could mean a major win for Sanders in the state.

"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," DiCamillo said in a release.

"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," he continued. "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."

If the poll's results reflect how California voters will cast their ballots on March 3, Sanders could get well over 200 delegates from that state alone.

Sanders faced some backlash this week over comments he made praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro for the literacy programs he implemented in the 1960s. But this did not seem to have a negative effect on California primary voters, as the IGS poll shows that Sanders' support has increased by 10 points since January.

The self-proclaimed democratic socialist is currently leading in the number of delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination, with 45. The eventual nominee will need to garner 1,991 delegates by July's Democratic Convention in Milwaukee.

Sanders has already won two of the three previous Democratic contests—the New Hampshire primary and the Nevada caucuses—and had a close second-place finish in delegate count after the Iowa caucuses, behind Buttigieg. He has also gotten more votes than any other Democratic candidate in each of those three contests. The next primary is Saturday in South Carolina, where 54 delegates are up for grabs.

Bernie Sanders Donald Trump 2020 election polls
Democratic presidential frontrunner Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to supporters on February 27, 2020 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Sanders, a self described democratic-socialist, is under criticism from mainstream Democrats for his liberal positions and views on socialism, which they feel will make him vulnerable to U.S. President Donald Trump in the general election. Spencer Platt/Getty Images