A new poll by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Election Research Center shows Bernie Sanders is ahead in battleground states for the Democratic primary, with close election matchups in the general election.
The ERC released the poll results Sunday morning after surveying a sample from the key battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The recent surveys place Sanders at the head of the pack in Wisconsin and Michigan. Sanders still polled ahead of other democratic candidates in Pennsylvania, but by a smaller margin.
UW Political Science Professor and Director of the ERC Barry Burden said in a press release about the survey that Sanders’ results place him in a good position to pick up delegates in the states without a strong challenge from other Democrat contenders. Though, Burden said in the press release, the match results for the general election remain a toss-up between any democratic nominee and Trump.
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“All three states are up for grabs in 2020,” Burden said in the press release. “Trump is in a more difficult position in Michigan than the other two states, but each of the Midwest battlegrounds could be won by either party, almost regardless of who becomes the Democratic nominee.”
Sanders shows the strongest lead in Wisconsin, receiving 30% of the vote. Bloomberg and Biden follow Sanders, tied for second with 13%. Buttigieg falls into third with 12%. The survey also broke down the results of candidates’ votes by gender and race, showing the support by gender does not vary much between each nominee, but does by race.
The survey puts Biden at top choice of Black voters, earning 35% of their vote across the three states. Sanders also leads with white and Hispanic voters, taking 26% of the white vote and 36% of the Hispanic vote. Though, the survey said the most blatant divide was between the age differences in Democratic candidate preference.
“Sanders is the pick of a majority of those under 30 years old, but only one out of ten voters from those 65 or older,” the ERC wrote in the press release. “Older Democratic primary voters are more divided in their choices but generally find Biden and Bloomberg most appealing.”
The press release said none of the three states will be won easily by either party, regardless of the Democratic nominee. The press release said new voters may be important to the Democrats winning over the swing states.
In an email to The Badger Herald Burden wrote that new voters who did not vote in 2016 are strongly supportive of all of the Democratic contenders compared to Trump, a downfall of Clinton lacked for unification in 2016.
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“They make the difference in keeping Democrats even with or slightly ahead of Trump in head-to-head comparisons,” Burden wrote.
The press release said the results are likely to be most predictive in Michigan for the Democratic primary, given it is the first of the three state contests, March 10.
Levi Bankston, a graduate student at the ERC who worked on the survey, said in an email to The Badger Herald that a main findings from the first survey was the fact that who the democratic nominee is may not make a difference.
“A lot of the conversation we’ve been hearing from the candidates is that they are better able to defeat Trump come November, but the results from the survey suggest just the opposite for these key swing states,” Bankston wrote. “Whether it’s Biden, Bernie, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, or Warren, the election is going to be a toss-up.”
The survey is the first of three polls to be conducted by the ERC in collaboration with the Wisconsin State Journal during the 2020 election cycle in Midwest battleground states.
The next survey will be conducted after the primaries are finished in June. Burden said in an email that Wisconsin remains key in the general election with the numbers so close.
“The general election in Wisconsin remains up the air with no clear favorite,” Burden wrote. “Unless something substantial changes the situation, Wisconsin is likely to be a pivotal state in determining who wins the Electoral College in 2020.”