Neck-and-Neck in California as Sanders Virtually Erases 50-Point Deficit

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Neck-and-Neck in California as Sanders Virtually Erases 50-Point Deficit

New poll shows Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in statistical tie less than two weeks before California's Democratic primary

Bernie Sanders spoke Monday at Santa Monica High School. (Photo: BernieSanders.com)

Less than two weeks before California's critical Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are locked in a dead heat in that state, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The same poll (pdf) shows Sanders outperforming Clinton in a hypothetical match-up against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

The survey, conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), shows that among Democratic primary likely voters, 46 percent support Clinton and 44 percent support Sanders. Sanders leads Clinton among those who are very liberal (64% to 35%) as well as among younger voters (66% to 27%). Latino voters are slightly more likely to support Clinton (52% to 43%), while white voters are more divided (47% Clinton, 41% Sanders).

The San Jose Mercury News points out: "Sanders started the campaign a year ago trailing Clinton in California by more than 50 percentage points in early polls, but he had pared down her lead to single digits earlier this year. PPIC's last poll in March found Sanders trailing by seven percentage points."

As Politico notes, a Sanders victory on June 7 would create "an awkward situation for Clinton, who could be celebrating being dubbed the 'presumptive nominee' even as she loses the nation's largest state—and one of its most diverse."

Against Trump, Sanders wins 53-36 percent (with 11 percent undecided), while Clinton bests Trump by a smaller margin of 49-39 percent (11 percent undecided).

The poll numbers—sharply different from findings released earlier this week, which gave Clinton an 18-point lead in California—came on the same day as the State Department's Inspector General sharply criticized Clinton's use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State.

PPIC's poll also showed a majority (60%) in support of a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. Sanders endorsed that measure at a rally last week.

The PPIC findings were based on a telephone survey of 1,704 California adult residents—half (853) interviewed on landline telephones and half (851) on cell phones—from May 13-22. The margin of error is +/- 5.7 percentage points.

Clinton holds rallies Thursday in San Jose and San Francisco, while Sanders will appear in Ventura and Ponoma.

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