Poll: Biden widens lead over Sanders in Florida

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE has widened his lead over Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) in Florida a week before the state’s Democratic presidential primary, according to a poll released on Tuesday.

The Florida Atlantic University BEPI poll, conducted in the days after Biden notched a series of primary wins on Super Tuesday, shows the former vice president with the support of 61 percent of Florida Democratic voters. Sanders trails by 36 percentage points, with 25 percent support.

The poll is the latest to show Biden with an outsized lead in the Sunshine State, which holds its primary on March 17. With 219 delegates up for grabs, Florida is one of the biggest prizes of the Democratic nominating contest, and a win there for Biden would be a massive boost to his campaign. 

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A survey from St. Pete Polls released last week showed Biden with an even wider 49-point lead over Sanders in Florida. 

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The new survey shows Biden widening his lead since January, when a similar poll found him with the support of 42 percent of Florida Democratic voters. 

Sanders currently leads Biden among young voters in Florida, registering 35 percent support among 18- to 29-year-olds, compared to Biden’s 15 percent. But the former vice president carries the lead among voters in every other age group — voters that tend to turn out in more reliable numbers than their younger counterparts.

Sanders has long argued that his deep support among young voters would drive them to the polls in record numbers and propel him to victory, both in the primaries and in the general election in November.

But that high turnout has yet to materialize in the Democratic nominating contest. On Super Tuesday, for instance, no state that held a primary saw an increase in young voters’ share of the electorate. 

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That trend doesn’t bode well for Sanders’s prospects in Florida, where 18- to 29-year-olds made up only about 15 percent of the Democratic primary electorate in 2016. Voters aged 45 and older made up nearly two-thirds of the primary electorate that year, and Biden tends to perform best with them.

Regardless of which candidate wins the Democratic presidential nomination, both are likely to face a tough battle in Florida in the general election. President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE, who officially became a Florida resident last year, is more popular than not in the Sunshine State, with 49 percent of voters approving of his tenure in office and 41 percent disapproving.

In a hypothetical, head-to-head match-up, Trump leads Sanders, 53 percent to 47 percent. Biden doesn’t fare much better, trailing Trump, 49 percent to 51 percent, the FAU BEPI poll shows. That’s a reversal from January, when a similar poll showed both candidates leading Trump in hypothetical match-ups.

The FAU BEPI poll surveyed 1,216 Florida voters, including 399 Democratic voters, from March 5-7. It has a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points for the full sample and 4.9 percentage points for the Democratic voters surveyed.

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