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Biden leads Sanders by 7 in new national poll

Former Vice President Joe Biden has a 7-point lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a new national poll, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a distant third place.

The latest Monmouth University survey finds Biden at 30 percent, followed by Sanders at 23 percent and Warren at 14 percent. All three candidates saw a modest increase in support, with Biden gaining 4 points, Sanders 2 and Warren 3.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has not been in any debates but is spending tens of millions of dollars on a self-funded national advertising campaign, comes in fourth place at 9 percent support, up from 5 percent in the previous survey.

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Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 6 percent, followed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) at 4 percent and businessman Andrew Yang at 3 percent.

“With the exception of Bloomberg’s entry, this race looks pretty much like it did six months ago,” said Monmouth pollster Patrick Murray. “But that stability masks the potential for sizable swings once the first contests are held. Iowa and New Hampshire will play a major role in shaping national voter preferences.”

The primary race took a bitter and unexpected turn last week after Warren accused Sanders of telling her in a private meeting that a woman could not win the White House. Sanders denies making the remark.

The Monmouth poll found that 74 percent of Democratic voters say it doesn’t matter whether the party nominates a man or a woman to run against President Trump, while 13 percent say it is better to nominate a man and 8 percent say it’s better to nominate a woman.

“It might make for great TV, but most Democrats seem immune to the ‘he said, he didn’t say’ dust-up between Sanders and Warren,” said Murray. “Or at least they say that gender doesn’t matter.”

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A strong majority of Democratic voters, 58 percent, said the nominating process should be changed to feature a single national primary in which every state votes on the same day, rather than the current set-up, in which Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are the first four to vote.

Only 11 percent of Democrats want to keep the calendar the way it is, while 15 percent said the system should be modified to increase the number of early-voting states. Another 10 percent support grouped state primaries.

Fifty-six percent of Democrats said voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have too much influence in picking the nominee.

The primary calendar has been in focus this year as the Democrats’ largest and most diverse field ever has been whittled down to the top four candidates, who are all white.

There were no people of color on stage at last week’s debate in Des Moines, Iowa, and critics say this is a result of two predominantly white states being the first to cast ballots.

“Most Democratic voters would like to see an overhaul of the primary calendar,” said Murray. “This view appears to be more out of a sense of fairness to the party’s diverse electorate than concerns they might have about the ability of Iowa and New Hampshire voters to properly vet the field.”

The Monmouth University survey of 372 Democrats was conducted between Jan. 16 and Jan. 20 and has a 5.1 percentage point margin of error.

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