Bernie Sanders Dominates Democratic Candidates Among College Voters, New Poll Shows

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders continues to hold a commanding 15 percentage point lead over the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates among college students.

The latest weekly Chegg election tracker survey of Democrat or Democratic Party-leaning undergraduates across the U.S. saw Sanders close out of the year with 38 percent support - which ties his top approval rating for the year. Sanders has dominated polling at the college level through much of the 2020 campaign, although former Vice President Joe Biden has seen the most significant decline in support since the survey started last March.

According to the Chegg poll which ended December 31, Sanders is 15 points head of his next closest rival, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has 23 percent approval.

Sanders has overwhelmingly remained at the top of the weekly poll of 1,500 U.S. college students since March. Warren briefly overtook Sanders in mid-October before the Vermont Democratic senator saw his biggest jump in support through the remaining weeks of 2019.

In addition to holding the most support of Democrat or Democrat-leaning college students, several general election polls last month also showed Sanders defeating President Donald Trump. An Axios/ poll released in early December found Sanders pulled in 22.5 percent approval from college students of all political affiliations. Trump came in second with 17.3 percent approval, Warren was third with 15.9 percent and Biden fell to fourth place after leading the poll in April.

The students surveyed in the Chegg poll were asked, "Regardless of who you may support in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, who would you most like to be the Democratic nominee for President?"

The remaining candidates fell far behind Sanders and Warren in the final 2019 Chegg poll. Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang came in third, having risen from essentially 0 percent when polling began last March. Biden has fallen to fourth place with just 9 percent after beginning polling in April with 22 percent of support from liberal-leaning college students. Rounding out the top five is former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose end-of-the-year fundraising spike has attracted the attention of Democrat establishment figures.

College voter turnout increased in the 2016 presidential election, with 48.3 percent of students showing up to vote versus 45 percent in 2012. There was also a 3 percent increase in voter turnout among registered voters between 2012 and 2016, according to Tufts University research.

CNN and Emerson polls conducted in December among voters from all political affiliations showed Sanders defeating Trump in head-to-head general election match-ups. And a CBS News/YouGov poll released this week showed a three-way tie between Sanders, Biden and Buttigieg with 23 percent approval from Democratic primary voters.

Sanders and Biden have spent recent weeks sniping each other with comments critical of their long histories in Washington politics. Sanders has specifically honed in on Biden's 2002 vote in favor of the Iraq War and his support of the NAFTA trade agreement he has described as a "disaster."

bernie sanders college students poll
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders continues to hold a commanding 15 percentage point lead over the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates among college students. CHIP SOMODEVILLA / Staff/Getty Images