NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, March 7th, 2020

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are running dead even in Washington State, new poll finds

For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s cam­paign for the White House has under­gone a dra­mat­ic trans­for­ma­tion in the past few days; after dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mances in the Iowa cau­cus­es, New Hamp­shire pri­ma­ry and Neva­da cau­cus­es, a con­vinc­ing win in South Car­oli­na prompt­ed a big coa­lesc­ing of for­mer rivals and elect­ed offi­cials in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty behind his can­di­da­cy, which led to a Super Tues­day result that made Biden the undis­put­ed frontrunner.

Across the coun­try, Biden is now rely­ing heav­i­ly on endorse­ments to con­tin­ue his cam­paign’s surge of momen­tum, and it seems to be working.

In recent days, a flood of promi­nent state polit­i­cal fig­ures and insti­tu­tions have stepped for­ward to endorse Biden. The list includes The Seat­tle Times, Seattle’s May­or Jen­ny Durkan, for­mer Gov­er­nor Chris­tine Gre­goire, and for­mer Gov­er­nor Gary Locke. Biden is also backed by a num­ber of cur­rent and for­mer city coun­cil mem­bers and state rep­re­sen­ta­tives from across the Ever­green State.

The effects of the sud­den Biden surge have had a dra­mat­ic impact on the race. A month and a half ago, a Sur­veyUSA poll indi­cat­ed that Vermont’s Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders had a five-point lead over the for­mer Vice President.

This week, Sur­veyUSA released a poll that showed the two can­di­dates in a sta­tis­ti­cal dead heat – Biden (at 36%) led Sanders (35%) by one point, less than the mar­gin of error. With no indi­ca­tion that the flow of endorse­ments is going to dry up between now and the state’s pri­ma­ry on Tues­day, the Biden cam­paign might feel con­fi­dent that they can eke out anoth­er victory.

But Sanders won Wash­ing­ton State four years ago, and his cam­paign has an incred­i­bly strong oper­a­tion here, led by Carin Chase. Sanders vol­un­teers are fer­vent­ly can­vass­ing, text-bank­ing, and phone-bank­ing this week­end, and that will help get out the vote for Bernie. Sanders’ cam­paign will be hop­ing to pick up as many Eliz­a­beth War­ren sup­port­ers as pos­si­ble now that she’s out.

It is impor­tant to note that Sur­veyUSA’s poll was con­duct­ed between March 4th and March 6th, with the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of inter­views con­duct­ed before news had spread that Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren had dropped out of the race.

The senior Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor from Mass­a­chu­setts gar­nered 10% sup­port in the poll, under the thresh­old for via­bil­i­ty, which is fif­teen percent.

Warren’s coali­tion of sup­port spreads across the divide between Biden and Sanders – they are very lib­er­al and most­ly white (which helps Sanders), but War­ren made a point of being con­cil­ia­to­ry towards the party’s estab­lish­ment, and her sup­port­ers often com­plained about the acri­mo­ny with which Sanders sup­port­ers treat­ed them online (which might help Biden).

Many War­ren sup­port­ers have already vot­ed, thanks to Washington’s vote-at-home bal­lot­ing sys­tem, so their votes can­not be reallocated.

Giv­en how flu­id and fast-mov­ing this nom­i­nat­ing con­test, it’s hard to say what effect War­ren’s with­draw­al will have. But it’s plau­si­ble that peo­ple who were lean­ing War­ren or pro-War­ren but had­n’t vot­ed pri­or to Thurs­day will splin­ter, with some War­ren sup­port­ers going to Biden and some going to Sanders.

That makes Tues­day’s pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry all the more excit­ing. It could be a very close con­test between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

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2 Pings

  1. […] The pre­lim­i­nary num­bers almost exact­ly mir­ror the find­ings of a poll done by Sur­veyUSA for KING5 News last week, which we dis­cussed on Saturday. […]

  2. […] Since then, Biden’s cam­paign has waned and roared back to life. A poll back in Jan­u­ary by Sur­veyUSA put Sanders ahead in the pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry; a more recent poll tak­en last week found Sanders and Biden tied. […]