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Poll: Bernie Sanders takes lead in California Primary race, Bloomberg surges into close second

Bernie Sanders in Vista, Calif.
Posted at 5:52 PM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-18 21:25:16-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The race to win the California primary has a new frontrunner. According to a new 10News/Union-Tribune scientific poll released Tuesday evening, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has moved into the lead with 25%. In another shakeup, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomerg surged into second place at 21%.

Former Vice President had been the leader in each 10News/Union-Tribune poll taken this election cycle until this latest result. In the new poll, Biden fell to third place at 15%, with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 12%. A candidate must get 15% to receive any delegates from the primary.

LISTEN: Interview with Rafael Návar, California State Director at Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign

"We're a a very diverse state with a lot of communities that support the senator," Rafael Navar, California Director for the Sanders campaign, told 10News Tuesday afternoon. "We prioritize all parts of San Diego. We've been really focused on Latino turnout and getting Latinos out to vote, especially, but all working class folks. So San Diego is obviously going to be an easy place for us to focus."

Buffeted by hundreds of millions of dollars in television advertising, the Bloomberg campaign may be building momentum heading into the primary. "Mike Bloomberg has a really strong record on two issues, in particular, that Californians really care about," Regional Political Director for the Bloomberg campaign Maryanne Pintar told 10News. "...that is gun safety and climate, and we know that when we talk about his records on those issues, it's really resonating with voters."

Both campaigns agree that the number one issues for voters is defeating Donald Trump, so both are making the case that they are the most electable candidate. "Folks trust that he's going to be fighting for them," Navar said. "Even if they might not agree 100% on all the issues...they know that he's representing the values."

"I think that he's (Bloomberg) the right candidate to bring together moderates and progressives, and I think that's going to be our strength going into the final weeks."

Political experts, however, say the number of candidates in the field has led to the fracturing of the vote. So even though Sanders had a virtual tie in Iowa and a narrow win in New Hampshire, he has not consolidated the party. "Bernie Sanders has shown that he's locked down about a quarter of the electorate," said UC San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser. "But he hasn't expanded beyond that base."

But while Kousser says the majority of Democrats have concerns that Sanders is the best candidate to defeat President Trump, no candidate among the "moderate lane" has been able to rally enough support to emerge as a clear alternative. "The longer the rest of the democratic field goes before they sort themselves out and coordinate on one anti-Bernie candidate, the better things are for Bernie Sanders."

Kousser compared the race to the 2016 Republican Primary, in which a large field of candidates battled each other to be the alternative choice to Donald Trump, only to see that process drag on so long that Trump was able to build enough delegates to put the race out of reach.