U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont holds a narrow lead over former Vice President Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination among Texas Democrats, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Friday.
The survey of 1,200 registered voters conducted from Jan. 31 to Feb. 9 spans the period from just before the Iowa caucuses to the eve of the New Hampshire primary. It reflects Biden’s sagging fortunes and Sanders’ rise as the party’s tentative front-runner.
Sanders was the choice of 24% of Democrats, doubling his 12% share in the October poll, conducted by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, and vaulting him past both Biden, at 22%, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, at 15%, who also led Sanders in the last survey.
Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project, said the results reflected the air going out of a Biden candidacy whose lead in past polls in Texas and nationally may have mostly reflected his standing as a longtime senator and former vice president who was familiar to voters.
"It may be less a decline and more an exposure of his limitations that were always there," Henson said.
The poll has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2.83 percentage points, and a margin of error of plus or minus 4.09 percentage points for Democratic trial ballots.
Among the other candidates, billionaire businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a late entrant in the race who skipped the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, was rising, with 10% support among Texas Democrats, and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who fought Sanders to what was essentially a tie in Iowa and came in a close second in New Hampshire, was at 7%.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who ended his candidacy after the New Hampshire vote, was next, at 6%, followed by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who scored a strong third in New Hampshire, and was at 3%, along with Tom Steyer, the billionaire former hedge fund manager. U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was at 2%.
The top second choices for Biden backers were Warren at 25% and Bloomberg at 24%. Forty-three percent of Warren supporters would go to Sanders, 15% to Biden and 14% to Klobuchar. Nearly half of Sanders’ voters – 48% - would go with Warren. Bloomberg supporters’ second choice was Biden, at 28%, followed by Warren at 20%
Fifty-two percent of all Texas voters said they would not vote to reelect President Donald Trump but he continued to lead match-ups with the Democratic contenders. He leads Sanders by 2 percentage points, 47%-45%; Biden by 4 points, 47%-43%; and Warren by 3 points. Bloomberg, Buttigieg and Klobuchar all trailed Trump by 5 points.