Joseph R. Biden Jr. is ahead in Michigan, but Washington is shaping up to be extremely close.
Author: Maggie Astor
Published: 2020-03-10 10:00 am
What the Polls Say About Today's Democratic Primaries
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Joseph R. Biden Jr. is ahead in Michigan, but Washington is shaping up to be extremely close.

(image)
Joseph R. Biden Jr. at a campaign rally in Flint, Mich., on Monday. Polls show him ahead, to varying degrees, in several states that vote on Tuesday.Credit...Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Six states are holding Democratic primaries or caucuses on Tuesday: Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington, worth a collective 352 delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

There have been no recent polls by reputable organizations in North Dakota. Here is what the polls say about the other five states.

Michigan, which will award 125 delegates, is the biggest prize this week — and a crucial one for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has effectively ceded large parts of the South to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in order to go all-in on the Midwest.

It is worth noting that polls were very wrong in Michigan in 2016: They showed Hillary Clinton with a large lead, but Mr. Sanders ended up eking out a victory.

That being said, three polls conducted since Super Tuesday show Mr. Biden substantially ahead:

  • A Monmouth University poll released Monday found Mr. Biden with 51 percent support and Mr. Sanders with 36 percent: a 15-point lead for Mr. Biden. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.

  • A Detroit Free Press poll, also released Monday, found Mr. Biden at 51 percent and Mr. Sanders at 27 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

  • A Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Sunday found Mr. Biden at 54 percent and Mr. Sanders at 41 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.8 percentage points.

  • A Data for Progress poll released Monday found Mr. Biden at 59 percent and Mr. Sanders at 38 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was at 2 percent or lower in all four polls.

We have only one recent poll in Mississippi, which will award 36 delegates.

It was released by Data for Progress, a liberal think tank, on Sunday, and it shows Mr. Biden with a huge lead: 77 percent to Mr. Sanders’s 22 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.1 percentage points. (Ms. Gabbard was at 1 percent.)

You should always take individual polls — as opposed to averages of multiple polls — with a grain of salt. But a 55-point lead is enormous, and a Biden victory in Mississippi is pretty much a foregone conclusion: He is very strong in the South, and Mr. Sanders canceled a rally in Mississippi last week in a tacit acknowledgment that his comeback opportunities lie elsewhere.

The real question is how big the margin will be, and whether Mr. Sanders can perform relatively strongly in individual congressional districts and collect some extra delegates there.

A Data for Progress poll released Monday is the only recent survey in Idaho, and it shows a close race for the state’s 20 delegates. Mr. Biden is at 51 percent and Mr. Sanders at 47 percent, within the margin of error of plus or minus 5.4 percentage points.

Polls conducted in Missouri, which will award 68 delegates, in the past week differ widely:

  • A Data for Progress poll released Sunday found Mr. Biden at 62 percent and Mr. Sanders at 32 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points.

  • A Missouri Scout/Remington Research Group poll released Saturday found Mr. Biden at 53 percent and Mr. Sanders at 31 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

  • An Emerson College poll released last Thursday showed a much tighter race: Mr. Biden at 48 percent and Mr. Sanders at 44 percent, within the margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.

Polls show an extremely close race in Washington, which will award 89 delegates.

  • A Data for Progress poll released Monday found Mr. Biden at 49 percent and Mr. Sanders at 43 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.1 percentage points.

  • A separate Data for Progress poll released two days earlier found Mr. Biden at 47 percent and Mr. Sanders at 44 percent, within the margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

  • A King 5 News/SurveyUSA poll released Friday found, essentially, a tie: Mr. Biden at 36 percent and Mr. Sanders at 35 percent. The credibility interval, which SurveyUSA reports instead of a margin of error, was plus or minus 5.4 percentage points.

In a race this tight, it is entirely possible that the outcome could depend on how many people voted early, when more candidates were in the race.

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