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Rising Number of Democrats Say Sanders Most Likely to Beat Trump as Senator Surpasses Biden in Black Voter Support

The Reuters/Ipsos national polling results were released ahead of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate in South Carolina.

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) attended a presidential campaign rally in New York City on Oct. 19, 2019. (Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Support for Sen. Bernie Sanders among Democrats and African-American voters is growing, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos national polling results, which were released before Tuesday night's Democratic presidential primary debate in South Carolina.

The poll, conducted Feb.19-25, found (pdf) that a rising number of Democrats believe Sanders (I-Vt.) has the best chance of beating President Donald Trump in November.

While that question was not asked of registered Republicans, a plurality of all other respondents (26%) said Sanders is "most likely" to beat Trump in the general election, compared with 20% who said billionaire businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 19% who said they "don't know," and 17% who said former Vice President Joe Biden.

Among registered Democratic voters, 29% selected Sanders as most likely to defeat the president compared with 21% who chose Bloomberg, 20% who named Biden, and 14% who said they "don't know." All the Democratic candidates except Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) were listed.

As Reuters noted Wednesday, "That was a big change from a month earlier, when 27% of respondents gave Biden the edge, and just 17% thought Sanders could beat Trump."

The results follow Sanders' decisive victory in the Nevada caucuses last Saturday that solidified his status as the frontrunner in the race—and has caused his fellow candidates and the corporate media to ramp up attacks on the democratic socialist, including during and after Tuesday's debate.

The debate in South Carolina came ahead of the state's primary this coming Saturday—which will be the nation's fourth nominating contest and will come just ahead of Super Tuesday next week, when Democrats in over a dozen states will weigh in on the primary race.

As of Wednesday morning, RealClearPolitics' polling average showed Sanders with a national double-digit lead of 29.2% support compared with Biden at 18% and Bloomberg at 14.4%. In South Carolina, where Bloomberg is not competing, Biden led at 30.3% support compared with Sanders at 22.3%, according to RCP.

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Biden has been publicly optimistic about his odds in the Palmetto State, declaring during the debate, "I will win South Carolina." Black voters have been a "powerful bloc" in the state for recent presidential races and are expected to cast up to two-thirds of all ballots in the primary Saturday, USA Today reported Tuesday.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll found that Sanders has surpassed Biden in terms of support among African-American voters nationally:

When asked which candidate they would support in their state's nominating contest, 26% said they would vote for Sanders, up 7 points from a previous reading conducted Jan. 29-Feb. 19.

Another 23% said they would back Biden, down 10 points from the last survey, and 20% would support Bloomberg, a rise of 10 points.

As Reuters reported, those results "could spell trouble" for Biden, who lags behind Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg in terms of delegates following early votes in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada.

The current delegate count is 45 for Sanders, 25 for Buttigieg, 15 for Biden, eight for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and seven for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, Gabbard, and Bloomberg—who is betting hundreds of millions of his personal fortune on Super Tuesday—do not have any delegates.

Throughout his second run for president, Sanders has campaigned with the slogan "Not me. Us." and emphasized the importance of building a "multiracial, multigenerational movement" that inspires first-time voters to participate in the Democratic primary process and general election.

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