Sen. Bernie Sanders, consolidating support from voters on the left, has taken a clear lead in the race for California’s huge trove of Democratic convention delegates as the presidential campaign moves toward a critical month of primary contests.
Sanders has been propelled to the top in California by growing support from voters who label themselves “very liberal” — a shift that has come largely at the expense of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. That very liberal group makes up about one in three Democratic primary voters in the state.
Along with strong backing among Latinos and young voters, backing on the left is enough to give the Vermont senator support from 26% of voters likely to take part in the state’s March 3 Democratic primary, according to the latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, conducted for the Los Angeles Times. His gains in the state come as several polls in Iowa and New Hampshire — the states with the first contests of the primary season — also show Sanders gaining ground.
When the poll last surveyed California voters, in late November, Sanders and Warren were bunched tightly together. Since then, however, he has gained and she has continued to lose ground. The Massachusetts senator now has the support of 20% of likely voters, down from 22% in November and 29% in September.
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