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Sanders Wins California, Largest Super Tuesday Prize, Fueled By Latino Vote

Mar 4, 2020
Originally published on March 4, 2020 4:22 pm

Former Vice President Joe Biden may have won the most states on Super Tuesday, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders captured the one with the most delegates: California.

There are 415 delegates at stake in California, the largest haul of any state.

With 79% of the state's precincts reporting, Sanders had 33.5% of the vote to Biden's 24.8%.

Sanders was always expected to do well in California, with its large population of Latino voters and energized progressives. On Tuesday, he lived up to those expectations.

Sanders carried 49% of the Latino vote, the state's largest minority group, and 49% of voters who call themselves very liberal, according to exit polls.

Sanders was helped by some $7 million in ad spending in California, compared to about $350,000 by Biden through Sunday. With his victory, Sanders was perhaps able to erase memories of his 7-point loss to Hillary Clinton in California in 2016.

It is expected to be days before the final delegate allocation is known, because counting in California is complicated. Mail-in ballots will count as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday, and same day registration means there a large number of provisional ballots. Of the delegates assigned so far, Sanders has 72 and Biden 21.

Some 4 million votes were cast before Tuesday, and as they are counted it's possible Biden will see his percentage increase, as exit polls showed late-deciding voters trending his way. Officials have until April 2 to complete their tally.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was running in third place, and may win some delegates as well if he remains at the 15% threshold. Before suspending his campaign on Wednesday morning, Bloomberg had spent more than $71 million of his fortune on ads in California.

Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is in fourth place and in danger of coming away with zero delegates unless she is able to clear the 15% threshold.

Exit polls show Sanders did well in California — as he has elsewhere — with younger voters, winning a whopping 68% of those 18 to 24 and 48% of 25- to 29-year-olds compared to 5% in each bracket for Biden. However, these voters accounted for only 13% of the overall electorate in California.

Among the biggest age group, voters 65 and older, Biden won 32% of the vote, double the haul of Sanders.

But Sanders made up for it by winning white and nonwhite college graduates, as well as voters who identified themselves as Democrats (32% to 23%). Among voters calling themselves independent, Sanders had a wider lead over Biden, 44% to 12%.

Like he did across the South, Biden won big with black voters, 33% to 16%, but these voters made up just 7% of California's electorate. Voters who call themselves politically moderate also favored Biden, 31% to 23%.

Voters who said they decided on their candidate in the last few days broke for Biden 35% to 16%. But most voters said they made up their minds before February, and they favored Sanders 45% to 18%.

Interestingly, when asked if they will vote for the Democratic nominee in November no matter who it is, most voters said yes. But of the 13% who said no, 34% were Sanders voters.

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