Could Bernie Sanders Beat Trump in Florida?

Could Bernie Sanders Beat Trump in Florida?
Photo via Bernie Sanders' Campaign

Despite an acknowledged longshot chance at the nomination, Bernie Sanders and his campaign have trudged on. One of their main reasons, as we're sure a friend or two of yours has explained in an impassioned Facebook status update, is that at that moment Sanders fairs better than Hillary Clinton in national polls against Donald Trump. 

Putting aside the fallibility of national polls this early out to predict the results of an election for a minute, we'll instead point out that presidents aren't chosen by the popular vote but rather state-by-state through the Electoral College. That's a fact Florida knows better than most.  

Which has lead us to wonder whether Sanders could actually win in Florida. 

Florida, of course, has the most Electoral College votes of any swing state. It's also one of the weirdest. In 2008 and 2012, Floridians voted for left-leaning mainstream Democrat Barack Obama for president. In between those years in 2010 and 2014, Floridians elected and then re-elected Rick Scott, perhaps the country's most Trump-like governor. Which is to say, you never know which way Florida will swing. 

Trump, of course, remains keenly popular among the state's Republican base. He blew native son Marco Rubio out of the water in our primary, signaling the beginning of the end for the #NeverTrump moment. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton easily cruised to victory in the state's Democratic primary by a wide margin. Though, Florida's closed primary system mean's Florida's growing number of independent voters didn't have the option to cast a vote. We wondered if perhaps they had different feelings about the candidates? 

Well, a few polling firms have run Trump vs. Sanders polls. Turns out, Sanders national polling advantage against Trump isn't replicated here in the Sunshine State. 

The latest is from Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. The poll of 625 registered Florida voters was conducted from Tuesday through Thursday. By the by, it included newly minted Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson in the polls (a former Republican governor of New Mexico, he's been floated as a possible non-Trump alternative candidate for conservatives). 

Clinton has a slim but notable margin over Trump, 45-42. 

Sanders is tied with Trump 42-42 in the state. 

The poll also surveyed a hypothetical matchup between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Biden, a moderate's moderate, easily wipes the floor with Trump, 50-40. 

Perhaps Floridians would all like an alternative choice. None of the three remaining major candidates are much loved in the state. Here's the favorable/unfavorable breakdown for reach: 

  • Clinton - 41/47
  • Trump - 31/53
  • Sanders - 30/41
  • Biden - 48/26
  • Johnson - 9/4

A CBS/YouGov poll conducted in mid-March of nearly 1,000 likely voters found similar results. 

Clinton is in a statistical 43-42 tie with Trump. 

Sanders is in a full-on 44-44 tie with Trump. 

Notably, Sanders underperforms with Hispanics when compared to Clinton. Clinton leads Trump in the Hispanic/Latin vote 50-36. Sanders is in a statistical tie with Trump 42-41. Perhaps because for many Hispanic voters in Florida, the idea of socialism is just as if not more controversial than the idea of building a border wall. 

This poll also shows all three candidates with underwater favorability splits: 

Clinton - 39/56
Trump - 38/55
Sanders - 38/40 

Polls tend to change along with the dynamics of the race, especially in Florida. Keep in mind, that in this point in 2008 and 2012, both John McCain and Mitt Romney had leads over Barack Obama in Florida only to go on to lose the state. 

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