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Poll: Nearly 61% of Democratic voters support Biden, while 32% prefer Sanders

March 17, 2020

“Sleepy Joe” has woken up and energized Democratic presidential primary voters nationwide. They now overwhelmingly back Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders—a dramatic reversal in their standings of just one month ago, the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows.

Among those who have already voted or plan to do so, 61% support the former vice president, while 32% would prefer the Vermont senator as their party’s nominee.

The standings in the poll—conducted between March 11 and March 13—are a major change from mid-February, when the survey showed Sanders backed by 27% of Democratic primary voters and Biden favored by just 15%.

At the time, Sanders stood alone as the party’s front-runner, while Biden was among four candidates essentially tied for second place. But the former vice president’s fortunes changed significantly following his win in South Carolina’s February 29 primary,and dominance in a string of field-narrowing primaries since then, the Journal says..

The share of Democratic primary voters who say they have definitely settled on a candidate has skyrocketed in the past month, from 37% to 80%, giving. Sanders little room for growth beyond his current base.

Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic, which has altered many aspects of the campaign, is making it harder for Sanders to break through with his message. It has also eliminated the large rallies that provide much of the fuel for his campaign, the news outlet notes.

“Bernie Sanders is on a cement trampoline—not a lot of bounce,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who worked on the survey with Jeff Horwitt, also a Democrat, and Republican Bill McInturff.

“The race is sort of locked into place,” said. McInturff. “This is very clear, definitive data about the status of this race and the things Bernie Sanders was unable to do to create a coalition.”

Looking to the general election, Biden led Trump in the new survey by 9 percentage points (52% to 43%) in a test match-up, while Mr. Sanders led by 4 points (49% to 45). Both margins were essentially unchanged from February.

Research contact: @WSJ