Sanders solidifies himself as frontrunner in Nevada and beyond, new polls show

Nevada polls

On the eve of the Nevada caucuses, polls show Sen. Bernie Sanders with a comfortable lead in the Battle Born State, while national surveys have him opening up a double-digit advantage over his closest rivals — a group that includes billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

Bernie Sanders at a rally in Las Vegas on Feb. 15. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Note that Bloomberg is not on the ballot in Nevada. And the figures below do not show candidates who polled at 1 percent or less.

KLAS-TV/Emerson College Nevada Democratic Primary Poll, Feb. 19-20

• Bernie Sanders 30%

• Pete Buttigieg 17%

• Joe Biden 16%

• Elizabeth Warren 12%

• Amy Klobuchar 11%

• Tom Steyer 10%

• Tulsi Gabbard 2%

Margin of error: +/- 4.7%


Las Vegas Review-Journal Nevada Democratic Primary Poll, Feb. 11-13

• Bernie Sanders 25%

• Joe Biden 18%

• Elizabeth Warren 13%

• Tom Steyer 11%

• Pete Buttigieg 10%

• Amy Klobuchar 10%

Margin of error: +/- 4.8%

Cracks in Bidens firewall

Looking ahead to South Carolina — a critical state for Joe Biden’s chances of a comeback — recent surveys show the former vice president maintaining only a slight lead over Sanders, who is closing the gap. And one poll, conducted by Change Research for the Democratic group the Welcome Party, shows Biden and Sanders now tied at 23 percent.

“Flames seem to be licking through the cracks in Biden’s firewall,” noted Winthrop poll director Scott Huffmon. “His support has dropped by double digits since late September. Without a strong showing in South Carolina, Biden’s campaign will be limping into Super Tuesday.”

Winthrop University South Carolina Democratic Primary Poll, Feb. 9-19

• Joe Biden 24%

• Bernie Sanders 19%

• Tom Steyer 15%

• Pete Buttigieg 7%

• Elizabeth Warren 6%

• Amy Klobuchar 5%

Margin of error: +/- 4.7%


UMass-Lowell South Carolina Democratic Primary Poll, Feb. 12-18

• Joe Biden 23%

• Bernie Sanders 21%

• Tom Steyer 13%

• Pete Buttigieg 11%

• Elizabeth Warren 11%

• Amy Klobuchar 9%

• Tulsi Gabbard 4%

Margin of error: +/- 7.5.%

Sanders at a rally in Venice, Calif., in December. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

More Americans feeling the Bern

And three national polls released this week show Sanders continuing to solidify his frontrunner status after a victory in the New Hampshire primary. They also suggest Bloomberg’s media saturation ad strategy is working, with the late-to-the-party billionaire blitzing past Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. And one poll out of Florida shows Bloomberg on top in the Sunshine State.

All these surveys, however, were conducted before Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas, when Bloomberg was pummeled by Elizabeth Warren and the rest of the field for his use of nondisclosure agreements as a business owner, his defense of stop-and-frisk policing as mayor and more.


ABC News/Washington Post National Poll, Feb. 14-17

• Bernie Sanders 32%

• Joe Biden 16%

• Michael Bloomberg 14%

• Elizabeth Warren 12%

• Pete Buttigieg 8%

• Amy Klobuchar 7%

• Tom Steyer 2%

Margin of error: +/- 3.5%


NBC News/Wall Street Journal National Poll, Feb. 14-17

• Bernie Sanders 27%

• Joe Biden 15%

• Michael Bloomberg 14%

• Elizabeth Warren 14%

• Pete Buttigieg 13%

• Amy Klobuchar 7%

• Tom Steyer 2%

Margin of error: +/- 4.8%

NPR/PBS/Marist College National Poll, Feb. 13-16

• Bernie Sanders 31%

• Michael Bloomberg 19%

• Joe Biden 15%

• Elizabeth Warren 12%

• Amy Klobuchar 9%

• Pete Buttigieg 8%

• Tom Steyer 2%

Margin of error: +/- 5.4%

Caveat

Despite Sanders’s strong polling, the analytics site FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist just a 35 percent chance of securing enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot at this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.

A sign in Las Vegas on Tuesday, the final day of early voting for the Nevada caucuses. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Results on Saturday? Reply hazy, try again

The Nevada caucuses are set for Saturday, which in previous election cycles would mean we could expect results on, well, Saturday. In 2020? There are no such guarantees.

The first primary contest of this cycle was a mess for Democrats, as the Iowa caucuses were unable to report results on the night voters gathered, leading to an immediate questioning of their legitimacy by the Biden campaign. Matters didn’t improve the next day, when the Iowa Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee drew fire from Sanders supporters when they released a seemingly arbitrary 62 percent of the results that showed Buttgieg with a lead in delegates. 

That margin decreased as more results came in, until DNC chief Tom Perez called for a recanvass with 97 percent of the results in and Sanders seemingly set to take the lead. Nearly three weeks later, we still don’t know the exact results, but as of Feb. 21 Sanders had a lead in the popular vote, while the delegate count is essentially a tie.

The Hawkeye State debacle gave warning to Nevada Democrats, who ditched an app developed by the same company that created Iowa’s faulty reporting system and replaced it with 2,000 iPads equipped with Cisco Systems security software. They have also lowered expectations about whether we’ll know the results on Saturday.

“We’re going to do our best to release results as soon as possible, but our North Star, again, is accuracy,” said Perez on Tuesday.

“We understand just how important it is that we get this right and protect the integrity of Nevadans’ votes,” Shelby Wiltz, caucus director of the Nevada State Democratic Party, said in a statement this week.

Adding to the potential problems for Saturday is that this is the first year Nevada has allowed early voting, and there’s been a ton of it: An estimated 70,000 Democrats have already logged their preference, nearly as many as the 84,000 who caucused in 2016. Precincts will have to record everyone’s initial preference, eliminate candidates who don’t reach the viability threshold and then count again after realignment.

If the Nevada results aren’t reported in a timely fashion, that will only serve as further fuel in the push to eliminate caucuses entirely.

President Trump at a campaign rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Thursday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Trump’s parasitic counterprogramming

As was the case in the days leading up to Iowa and New Hampshire, President Trump was in Nevada this week counterprogramming the Democratic caucuses, using his hotel on the Strip as a home base of sorts while attending fundraisers in California and holding rallies in Colorado and Las Vegas.

On Thursday night, Trump held a rally in Colorado Springs, where he took a respite from his usual targets (Democrats, the deep state, Joe and Hunter Biden, James Comey, et al.) to mock “Parasite,” the Best Picture winner at the Oscars earlier this month.

“How bad were the Academy Awards this year?” the president asked, prompting jeers from the crowd. “Did you see it? The winner is ... a movie from South Korea! What the hell was that all about? We got enough problems with South Korea with trade. On top of that, they give them best movie of the year? Was it good? I don’t know. Let’s get ‘Gone With the Wind.’ Can we get ‘Gone With the Wind’ back, please?”

Directed by Bong Joon Ho, “Parasite” was the first foreign-language film ever to win Best Picture. And the studio behind the film was quick to bite back.

But the “Parasite” win wasn’t the only part of the Oscars to irk the president. He also took aim at Brad Pitt, who used his acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor to call out Senate Republicans for blocking the testimony of former national security adviser John Bolton.

“He got up and said little wise guy statements,” the president said. “He’s a little wise guy.”

Trump added that he was “never a fan” of Pitt’s, adding the actor to a long list of people and things of which the president is not a “fan.” Among them: Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Cosby, George W. Bush, Jeff Flake, Bitcoin, tattoos and, of course, sharks.

Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren during the Democratic debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Verbatim

“We knew that we were going to come in and the cannons were loaded for bear. He was everyone’s target. I think he weathered the storm.”

— Howard Wolfson, Michael Bloomberg’s senior adviser, when asked Wednesday to assess the candidate’s debate performance

“I’ve had it with billionaires who think their money buys them something special, so they can call women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians’ and, when someone complains about it, throw a little money on it and put a gag in the woman’s mouth. That’s not right — and that’s not going to be our candidate for president.”

— Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in Las Vegas Thursday, continuing to attack Michael Bloomberg a day after she pummeled him in the debate

“It sounded like he was running in the wrong primary.”

— Tom Steyer, who did not qualify for Wednesday’s debate, on CNN, assessing Bloomberg’s performance

“I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country.”

— President Trump to reporters on Tuesday, reiterating the claim that he has the right to intervene in federal court cases, including the one involving his longtime ally Roger Stone

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