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Bernie and Jane Sanders over the weekend at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Sanders Looks West as National Poll Gives Him 'Whopping' Lead over Trump

Voters in Arizona and Utah, as well as Democrats in Idaho, are going to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots for presidential nominees.

Deirdre Fulton

As the Bernie Sanders campaign hoped for big victories in primary contests in the American West on Tuesday, a new national poll gave him a "whopping" 20-point lead over Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

Voters in Arizona and Utah, as well as Democrats in Idaho, are going to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots for presidential nominees.

In Arizona, where polls close at 7 pm local time, the primary proportionally awards 75 delegates on the Democratic side. The Utah caucuses, which begin at 6 pm local time for Democrats, will proportionally award 33 delegates. And in Idaho, the caucuses begin at 7 pm Mountain time and also award 33 delegates proportionally. 

While Sanders could pull out victories in all three states, "Arizona looks the most promising for [Hillary] Clinton," Politico reported. "She's won there before in 2008. And it’s a closed primary, which hurts Sanders, since it means independent voters can't cast ballots."

Still, Politico adds, "The Sanders campaign has countered with support from Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva and other prominent Latino officials, in addition to ads aimed at minority voters."

Recent, if limited, polling in Arizona show Clinton with a strong lead. And as Jeff Stein wrote at Vox, "Arizona is likely to give us our best guess yet of who can win in California—where a whopping 475 delegates are up for grabs on June 7."

It's a different story in Utah, where a new Deseret News/KSL poll showed Sanders ahead on Monday with 52 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers to 44 percent for Clinton. Tom Love, president of the state's leading Democratic communications firm, said Sanders appeals to Utah voters because he's seen as "authentic. He is true to himself and we like that."

Meanwhile, Vox reports that "[t]here's been virtually no polling of Idaho Democrats. But like Utah, Idaho is demographically favorable to Sanders." The most recent poll in Idaho, conducted at the end of February, showed Sanders with a slight edge on Clinton.

On the national front, a CNN/ORC poll published Tuesday found that if Sanders becomes the Democratic Party nominee, he would defeat Trump 58 percent to 38 percent—almost double Clinton's 12-point margin over the GOP frontrunner.

A separate CBS/New York Times survey came to similar findings, giving Sanders a 15-point lead over Trump compared with Clinton's 10-point advantage.

"Objectively speaking, there is no question that you are looking at the strongest Democratic candidate," Sanders told 3,200 supporters at an outdoor amphitheater in Flagstaff, Arizona on Tuesday.

What's more, the CBS/New York Times poll registered net negative ratings in the double digits for both Clinton and Trump, "indicating the frontrunners for each party's presidential nominations are viewed negatively at historic levels," CNN reported. 

CBS explained: "Compared to frontrunners in previous presidential primary races, Trump and Clinton's unfavorable ratings (57 percent and 52 percent respectively) are the highest in CBS News/New York Times Polls going back to 1984, when CBS began asking this question."

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