Texans are split between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders as their choice in the Democratic presidential primary, according to a University of Houston poll released Monday.
The poll, from the university’s Hobby School of Public Affairs, shows the two candidates in a statistical dead heat, with Biden slightly edging out Sanders among likely Democratic primary voters, 22.5% to 22.1%.
Among the rest of the field, 18.3% of likely voters supported Elizabeth Warren, 13.4% supported Michael Bloomberg, 11.9% supported Pete Buttigieg, 7.2% supported Amy Klobuchar, 3.5% supported Tulsi Gabbard, and 1.1% supported Tom Steyer.
But a split between moderate candidates could still leave Sanders with the most delegates. The poll predicts Sanders earning 85 delegates in Texas, compared to Biden taking 80. Following behind, Elizabeth Warren is expected to take 61, with Mike Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg winning one delegate each.
“It’s so early but Sanders is the front-runner now, and of course there’s a debate on Tuesday night. And I suspect all the contenders are going to go after him the way some of them went after Bloomberg in the last debate,” Hobby School executive director Jim Granato told Houston Matters host Craig Cohen on Monday.
Most important to those polled was picking a candidate who could beat Donald Trump in November’s general election. More than half of respondents said defeating Trump was their No. 1 priority, while a little less than a third said agreeing on the issues was most important. Just 11.1% found experience to be a major factor in their decision.
But respondents were split on who they felt could beat the president in November.
Researchers found stark differences in support by gender, with men more likely to vote for Biden, while women were more likely to vote for Sanders. Elizabeth Warren’s support from women was just behind that of Sanders, 22.1% to 21%. But among men, just 14.4% of likely voters supported Warren, as compared to 25.1% for Biden and 22.2% for Sanders.
But since the the poll was conducted before the last debate, Granato said there would likely be some change among women voters.
“In terms of gender breakdown, both (Bloomberg) and Warren had more support from women than men,” he said. “And so my suspicion is that women probably have shifted away from Bloomberg after that performance last Tuesday.”
Biden’s strongest support came from African Americans. More than 45% of likely African American voters supported Biden, compared to 15.1% for Sanders and 13% for Warren. Bloomberg, who came in fourth overall, was supported by 17% of African American voters, according to the polling data.
Sanders led with Latino voters, with 30.3% of likely Latino voters supporting the senator vs. 18.9% for Biden and 16.8% for Warren, part of a larger national trend for Sanders.
“One of the messages from the poll was African-American support for Joe Biden, it was substantial,” Granato said. “And this fits with the story of the firewall through South Carolina that the African-American vote is going to stand up for Biden and make him, you know, resuscitate his campaign and make him a contender with Sanders.”