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CNN Poll Shows Sanders Surging Into First as Biden Continues to Drop—But Network Emphasizes Statistical Tie in Headline

"CNN still cannot fathom stating the obvious here: Sanders is leading in their own national poll."

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders leads a new CNN poll.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders leads a new CNN poll. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday for the first time has a lead in CNN polling of primary contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination—but you wouldn't know that from how the network framed their coverage. 

Sanders supporters took issue with the fact that despite the Vermont senator's three point advantage over former Vice President Joe Biden, 27% to 24%, CNN in its headline declares that "Bernie Sanders surges to join Biden atop Democratic presidential pack" rather than acknowledging the lead. The network adds in the article that Sanders and Biden are "in a two-person top tier above the rest of the field."

The disconnect between the Sanders lead—which is just within the 3.4 point margin of error—and the framing of CNN's piece on the poll was noticed by progressives and journalists. 

"The title of the article makes it sound like it's a tie," said Sanders surrogate Shaun King. "It isn't."

Law and Crime reporter Colin Kalmbacher also took aim at CNN for not declaring Sanders in the lead.

"CNN still cannot fathom stating the obvious here: Sanders is leading in their own national poll," said Kalmbacher. "Self parody."

The polling revealed other interesting data points, including that Sanders leads fellow progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over liberal Democrats by 33% to 19% and leads Biden with voters of color by 30% to 27%. 

"Gotta love those Bernie bros!" tweeted The Hill journalist Krystal Ball. 

Sanders also leads a new poll out Wednesday from crucial Super Tuesday state California, besting Biden by 28% to 24%, and gained on the former vice president in Morning Consult's weekly early-state polling.

As CNN's Ryan Struyk pointed out on Twitter, polling over the last few months shows a definite trend downward for Biden and upward for Sanders.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus who recently endorsed Sanders, celebrated the polling showing the Vermont senator pulling into the lead and urged the campaign's supporters to use the momentum as a motivator to keep working toward a primary election victory. 

"Great news, but we are not letting up!" said Jayapal. "#TeamBernie is winning because of Bernie Sanders' bold ideas, steadfastness, and clarity on how we turn this country around."

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