Sanders Pulls Ahead of 2020 Democratic Rivals in Latest National Poll

(CN) – Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders broke away from the field of presidential candidates Tuesday with a 12-point lead in a nationwide poll of voters, solidifying his front-runner status on the Democratic Party’s 2020 ticket.

Sanders had 31% support among voters who were asked to select a candidate if voting Tuesday, according to the National Public Radio/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released ahead of Nevada’s Feb. 22 caucuses.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt., smiles during his campaign event in Carson City, Nev., on Sunday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg surged to finish second in polling with 19% support, which qualifies the billionaire philanthropist for Wednesday’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas.

Bloomberg has faced criticism from fellow 2020 contenders for using his personal wealth to push past the crowded field of candidates as well as for his support for policies in New York City such as stop-and-frisk, a since abandoned police policy many say is racist.

The former mayor – who is self-funding his campaign – is set to make his first appearance on the 2020 debate stage Wednesday opposite Democratic rivals including former Vice President Joe Biden, who finished third in the poll with 15% support.

Biden, the former front-runner in polling for much of the campaign cycle, dropped 9 points from December’s poll results. He does, however, maintain a lead a lead over Sanders, within the margin of error, for support among black voters.

Biden is also the respondents’ choice in a head-to-head matchup with President Donald Trump, 50% to 44%.

Bloomberg finished third in support from black voters but leads in the poll among moderates and voters over age 45, according to the poll of 527 Democratic and Democratic-leaning independent voters.

Sanders, who picked up 9 points from the December poll, leads other 2020 hopefuls in support among women, progressives, voters under age 45 and those with and without college degrees, the poll found. His poll numbers come on the heels of a win last week in New Hampshire and a strong showing at the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3 where he took the popular vote but came in second behind former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg in the delegate count.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took fourth place with 12% support nationally – down 5 points since the December poll – while only 9% of Democratic voters preferred Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar as their presidential candidate. Buttigieg saw 8% support, a 5-point drop since December.

Buttigieg, Warren, Klobuchar, Biden, Bloomberg and Sanders will appear on the debate stage Wednesday. Billionaire Tom Steyer, who has 2% support in Tuesday’s poll, has not qualified for the debate.

Five percent of voters remain undecided, according to the poll which was conducted by telephone Feb.

Sanders also had a good showing in a Telemundo poll released Tuesday, which showed he and Biden with wide leads among Hispanic voters in Nevada though Biden holds a slight edge, 34% to Sanders’ 31%.

Buttigieg took the third slot with just 7% support among Nevada Hispanics. Another 12% of Hispanic voters in the Silver State are undecided.

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