UNF poll shows Biden with dominant lead heading into Florida Primary

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks as former Vice President Joe Biden listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate in Los Angeles. (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A week before the Florida Democratic presidential primary, Vice President Joe Biden has a 3-to-1 lead over Sen Joe Sanders among likely voters, according to a University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab poll released Thursday.

The new poll, conducted March 5-10 after all but one other Democratic candidate has dropped out of the race, found 66% of likely Democratic voters said they were inclined to vote for Biden, with Sanders and Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at 1%. Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who dropped out of the race right before the survey period, each drawing 2% voter preference in this poll.

“This is down to a two-man race and Biden is looking toward a blowout in Florida,” said Dr. Michael Binder, director of UNF’s PORL. “Florida’s polling numbers combined with Biden’s strong showing this past week in the primaries paints a bleak picture for the Sanders campaign. He is facing a do-or-die debate on Sunday if he hopes to swing the momentum.”

Among younger voters (18 to 24-year-olds), Sanders drew 77% of the prospective vote, while Biden shows greater popularity with the 65+ crowd at 78%. Middle age-range voters between 35 and 44 years of age seem more split, with 45% intending to vote for Biden and 40% for Sanders.

“Sanders does have a lot of support among young people; however, there are just not enough voters in that demographic to propel him to a victory in Florida,” said Binder.

Biden has the greatest support of black respondents at 68%, followed by 67% of white respondents, and 65% of Hispanic respondents. Sanders’s support is greatest among Hispanics at 28%, followed by white and black respondents at 21% and 18%, respectively.

Regarding the racial breakdown of respondents’ vote choice, Binder noted that, “despite Sanders’ support among Hispanics in other parts of the country, Hispanics in Florida are firmly supportive of Biden.”

Overall, 54% of respondents had definitely decided who they would vote for in the primary with 16% leaning towards someone and 29% still trying to decide.

When asked about the most important problem facing the country, 31% of respondents selected healthcare, followed by 14% indicating Donald Trump is the greatest problem. The environment came in at a close third at 12%. Coronavirus was way down the list -- at 1%.

“We did not list Donald Trump as an option, and yet a whopping 14% of likely Democratic voters volunteered him as their answer,” Binder said.

Subsequently, respondents were asked about what type of candidate they prefer; a majority of likely Democratic voters prefer a candidate best able to defeat Donald Trump at 68%, with 29% preferring a candidate who best represents their views.

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