A brand new poll released on Wednesday has Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders effectively tied in California with just under 2 weeks left to go until the state’s Democratic primary on June 7. Hillary Clinton comes in with 46 percent support to Sanders’ 44 percent.
The poll was conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California over the period of May 13 through May 22, via both landline and cellphone interviews. The margin of error, which is that number which is the best guess for how far the real numbers may be from those reported, is 5.7 percent, which is where the “effective tie” comes in. Factoring in that number, Sanders could, in theory, be ahead.
Sanders continues to gain on Clinton in the absolutely must win state. California is the largest prize on the entire primary calendar, let alone among the states which are still left to vote. Sanders still lags desperately in pledged delegate count, but making a substantial win in California happen could be a lifesaver for him.
Besides his steadily, but perhaps too slowly, increasing poll numbers, at least two other factors in California work to his advantage. One, and perhaps one of the most striking, is the fact that unaffiliated voters can participate in the Democratic primary. That right there is a huge advantage for Sanders, since he often wins by huge margins among these voters.
In addition, a huge portion of the voting population is under 40, and a very small portion comes from minority backgrounds. Both of those facts also work heavily in Sanders’ favor when looking at past elections.
The question, however, is whether it is too little, too late. Can Sanders still really clinch the nomination? Clinton’s lead is substantial.
The answer is yes, even if such a scenario is a long shot. One of the things in Sanders’ favor is the fact that, more than likely, the nominee is going to be decided by superdelegates, who are those who go into the nominating convention unpledged to support any particular candidate. It’s up to the respective campaigns to convince these superdelegates to support their candidate.
Many of these persons are party officials, and it is a priority for such persons to pick the most electable candidate against the GOP nominee. The answer there is becoming increasingly evident to be Bernie Sanders, who maintains a double digit lead when pitted against Trump in a general election match up, while Trump leads Clinton by 0.2 percent.
Below, you can see the graph of Five Thirty Eight’s projections for the California primary. The analysts there still give Clinton a whopping 95 percent chance of scoring a win. The trend is not yet strong enough to draw the two candidates’ trend lines closer together.
The Real Clear Politics average of polls out of the state has Clinton ahead by 8 percent, and it shows that Sanders has never actually — yet — come out squarely in the lead in a poll. On the other hand, this poll is now the second one to show this same tie situation. A FOX News poll with a 4 percent margin of error that was conducted from April 18 through April 21 had Clinton ahead by a 2 percent margin.
You can see the Real Clear Politics graph below.