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Sanders overtakes Clinton in California; USC Dornsife/LA Times Poll

Actress, activist and Sanders surrogate Susan Sarandon introduces Democratic Presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders at a rally in Chico, California on June 2. Sarandon riled up the crowd and asked that everyone get out the vote. Video Courtesy News Universe/Youtube
Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has vanquished the lead of his opponent former Sec. Hillary Clinton in California according to a USC Dornsife/LA Times Poll released on Thursday evening. The two Democratic candidates are in a statistical tie with the senator from Vermont up by 1 point, within the poll’s (3.7 percent) margin of error.

Sanders smoothly closed a gap that last September had Clinton with a 16 point advantage. The margin was down to eight points in the same poll in March with Sanders campaign steadily gaining momentum in the Golden State. The poll conducted May 20-31 showed Sanders moving ahead by a single percentage point in a 44 percent to 43 percent lead among all registered voters.

“Bernie Sanders has tapped into a wellspring of support in the Democratic primary over the last several weeks and he’s closing with a rush,” said Dan Schnur, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. “If Clinton manages to hold him off and win the primary, it would be as a result of a low turnout that tilts the electorate in her direction.”

Sanders who has been campaigning across the state, drawing thousands of supporters to his political revolution rallies, encouraged a huge turnout for the state’s primary on June 7. “It is time to stop thinking small. It is time to think big,” the senator told a crowd of supporters at a rally in Chico, CA on Thursday.”

“If there is a large voter turnout we will win. If there is a very large turnout we will win by big numbers.” U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“On Tuesday, California will be holding the most important primary in the democratic nominating process,” Sanders told the crowd. Announcing the results of the USC/LA Times poll to a raucous crowd chanting Bernie, Sanders asked not only for their votes on Tuesday, but their help in getting out the vote. “If there is a large voter turnout we will win. If there is a very large turnout we will win by big numbers,” he said.

Sanders expanded his lead among “no party preference” voters who are eligible to vote in the Democratic presidential primary. In less than three months, the campaign doubled his lead among undeclared voters to 50 percent over Clinton’s 34 percent, up 16 percentage points from his 44 percent to 35 percent lead in March.

The poll release highlighted possible issues on Tuesday when Independent voters head to the polls. Sanders’ greatest challenge may be a get-out-the-vote effort made more challenging by confusing state election laws that require “no party preference” voters to request a second ballot to vote in the Democratic presidential primary. Large numbers of those voters did not request the cross-over ballot allowing them to vote in the Democratic primary. before the state deadline on May 31. This means they will have to vote in person rather than by mail in order to weigh in on the Clinton-Sanders contest.

Sanders encouraged his supporters to give California the greatest turnout for a Democratic Primary the state has ever known.

“Sanders has been the most successful in states where independent voters are able to participate in the Democratic primary, but the added obstacle in California could sideline large numbers of his supporters,” said Schnur, who also noted that voter turnout among Sanders’ millennial supporters tends to be much lower than among older voters. “If he’s going to win California, his campaign will have to pull off the most massive voter education project in California history between now and Tuesday morning.”

Clinton holds a 10-point lead among likely voters polled. The lead, according to Schnur is primarily a result of her strong support among older Californians, many who have already voted by mail. Looking to November, a general election between Clinton and GOP contender Donald Trump would have Clinton winning by a margin of 56 percent to 30 percent in the state. Also of note is that slightly more than 1 out of 5 registered California Republicans said that they will not vote for Trump in November, opting to support either the Democratic nominee or an unnamed third-party candidate.

“It’s almost impossible to see a scenario in which Trump carries California in the fall,” said Schnur. “But if Sanders wins the primary here next week, he’s going to head into the Democratic convention with a tremendous amount of momentum and an immense amount of leverage. That will mean a very long and unpleasant summer for Clinton.”

Clinton cancelled New Jersey events this week and headed back to California. Sanders at a rally in Palo Alto on Wednesday made not of the fact that the Clinton machine was heading back to town and may have realized that the Democratic Primary contest wasn’t yet over. “I see that Hillary Clinton is running back to California,” he said. “I see that Bill Clinton is running back to California.” The former Sec. of State held a fundraiser in Boston on Wednesday night before heading back to California. Both the former First Lady and former President Bill Clinton had scheduled events throughout the state on Thursday.

This article was originally published at on June 2, 2016. 


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