(CN) — A new poll of Arizona voters gives former Vice President Joe Biden a sizable lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the state’s March 17 primary and suggests Arizona could be in play for the Democrats come the November general election.
A Monmouth University Poll released Monday shows Biden with majority of support among likely Democratic voters in Arizona, with the former vice president enjoying 51% support. This puts Biden well ahead of Sanders, his remaining major rival in the Democratic primary race, who has currently captured 31% support.
Biden’s lead is largely due to his sizable support from crucial voting groups in the Grand Canyon State. Biden leads Sanders 55% to 26% among white voters and a remarkable 64% to 16% among voters 50 and older. Biden has also done well among early voters in the state, earning 50% support from early voters compared to the 27% for Sanders.
Sanders does better among Latino voters, earning just shy of 50% support from those voters. The senator also enjoys 56% support from voters under 50, a demographic he has historically polled well with.
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said the numbers suggest Biden is in a strong position ahead of Arizona’s primary – though he notes that the potential influence of the coronavirus on voter turnout remains unclear.
“Biden has a strong advantage going into the primary,” Murray said with the release of the poll. “This is because much of his support has already been banked in the early vote. The closure of many polling places due to COVID-19 means it is uncertain how many voters who planned to vote on Tuesday will actually show up.”
Arizona is one of four states set to hold its Democratic primary Tuesday.
Regardless of which candidate prevails in the race for the Democratic nomination, the poll indicates Arizona is very much in play for Democrats when it comes to the November general election.
In a pair of hypothetical matchups against President Donald Trump, Biden leads Trump 46% to 43% while Trump only just overtakes Sanders 44% to 43%.
The poll shows that in both scenarios Trump maintains support from voters who backed him in 2016, with Trump holding on to 86% of his 2016 voters against Biden and 87% when tested against Sanders.
Voters who punched the card for Hillary Clinton in 2016 are also likely to support the eventual Democratic nominee, though more support Biden than Sanders. Among those who cast ballots for Clinton in the last election, 90% say they would back Biden while 80% say they would back Sanders.
These numbers suggest that Arizona, a state Trump won in 2016 by four points, could prove to be intensely competitive this November.
Murray believes that these kinds of attitudes can change in the months leading up to the general election, but that things are looking like Biden could make Arizona a state to watch.
“Impressions of the Democratic nominee will shift once the general election campaign gets under way, but Biden would start off by putting Arizona within reach,” said Murray.
In the race to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate, a similarly tight race is underway.
Democrat Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and husband to former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, currently leads Republican incumbent Martha McSally in a hypothetical matchup by six points, 50%-44%. McSally is currently running to complete the final two years of Senator John McCain’s final term, a seat she was appointed to after McCain died of cancer in 2018.
Arizona voters are also largely split on how they view the federal government’s response to the recent outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States. Just under half in the state (49%) say the feds have done a good job amidst the epidemic, while 43% believe that they have performed poorly.
The Monmouth University Poll had a sample size of 847 registered Arizona voters and a 3.4% margin of error.