LOS ANGELES (KTLA) – Bernie Sanders has a double-digit lead in a new statewide poll of California voters that shows results indicating the second-time presidential candidate may be about to reinforce his status as the 2020 race's Democratic frontrunner.
Just two days ahead of Super Tuesday, a Nexstar Media California TV Stations/Emerson College poll released Sunday evening shows the Vermont senator with a double-digit lead of 37.8% on the heels of former Vice President Joe Biden's comeback win in South Carolina. Nexstar Media is KTLA's parent company.
Voters were polled both before former Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced Sunday afternoon he was dropping his historic campaign for the White House and ahead of billionaire Tom Steyer bowing out Saturday. However, some respondents did the survey after Steyer left the race, possibly affecting the results.
Twenty-one percent of those polled reported they have or will vote for former Vice President Joe Biden, who is trailed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 16.1%, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (10.8%), Pete Buttigieg (6.6%), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (4.6%), Tom Steyer (1.6%) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (1.4%).
The poll shows Sanders could cement his status as the 2020 front-runner in the biggest state thus far following previous wins in New Hampshire and Nevada. It could mean a much-needed Super Tuesday victory as the competition thins with more candidates dropping out.
Seventy-seven percent of those polled are registered Democrats — 69.2% of whom reported they are "very likely" to vote in the coming primary election. Another 22.7% are independent.
Health care was of more concern than any other issue included in the poll. Of respondents, 26.5% were Los Angeles-area residents, 24.5% Southern Californians, 16.3% Bay Area residents, 12.2% voters from the Bakersfield/ Fresno area and 10.2% from Northern California.
More than half — 62.5% — said they believe mandatory housing and mental health services should be devoted toward helping the more than 150,000 homeless people statewide.
The survey of 545 people included 296 women and 249 men. It consisted of 46.1% white voters, 29.5% Hispanic or Latino, 11.5% black, 5.7% of Asian descent and 7.3% who identified as "other."
Twenty-five percent of participants said health care was the single most important issue when deciding how they would vote. Close behind was "social issues" with 21.9%, the economy (21.1%), the environment (9.3%), impeachment (8%), education (6.3%), immigration (5.4%), gun control (1.6%) and foreign policy and terrorism (1.4%).
Nearly half of those polled said Sanders has the best health care policy of any candidate — 40.2%.
Biden followed by a double-digit margin with 19.7% saying he has the best policy, followed by Warren (15.7%), Buttigieg (8%), Bloomberg (7.2%), Klobuchar (4.9%), Gabbard (2.8%) and Steyer (1.5%).
The poll results indicate issues of homelessness and police brutality are among issues of chief concern. When asked if all officers should wear body cameras, 83.3% answered "yes."
More than half, 62.5%, responded that mandatory housing and mental health services should be "implemented" statewide to help the tens of thousands who are homeless.
Meanwhile, less than half of participants, 47.4%, indicated they would be willing to pay more in taxes to improve the state's response to wildfires, droughts and "worries over rising sea levels."