Bernie Sanders holds a 12-point lead over Elizabeth Warren in Colorado's crowded Democratic presidential primary race just days before ballots are due, according to a new survey released Thursday by Louisville-based Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies.
Sanders, who won Colorado' caucuses four years ago with 60% of the vote, tops the field of eight major Democrats, with 27% of likely primary voters picking the Vermont senator in the telephone survey, which was conducted Monday and Tuesday.
Massachusetts senator Warren follows with 15%, and the next three candidates are tightly bunched, with former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in third with 12%, followed by former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and former Vice President Biden tied for fourth place, each with 11% support.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has 6% support, with California investor Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard bringing up the rear, with 1% support apiece.
The pollster used live interviewers to contact 500 likely primary voters on landlines and cell phones on Feb. 24 and 25. The survey has a margin of error of 4.38%. Read the full poll results here.
Colorado voters have been returning mail ballots for two weeks ahead of the state's March 3 presidential primary. This year, it falls on Super Tuesday, when 14 other states and territories cast ballots in the Democratic primary, awarding roughly one-third of the pledged delegates to the national convention.
President Donald Trump isn't facing significant opposition in the Republican primary.
Sanders has led national polls in recent weeks and notched wins in the first three nominating contests, though he finished in a virtual tie with Buttigieg in the Iowa caucuses.
With Sanders out front in Colorado by a wide margin and the next four candidates all within the margin of error of the 15% threshold needed to win delegates, pollster David Flaherty said the 13% of undecided voters "will be pivotal in determining the final outcome."
Candidates are allotted delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee if they break 15% statewide or in any of Colorado's seven congressional districts.
"Right now," Flaherty said, "the 12-point lead for Sanders means that he is the only candidate who can feel optimistic about his chances in Colorado on Super Tuesday."
A clear majority of Colorado's Democratic primary voters say it's most important to pick a candidate who can defeat Trump in November over a candidate who shares the voter's values and personal beliefs, the poll found.
Fully 57% say they prioritize electability, while 36% say agreeing with a candidate's values is most important.
Beating Trump is considered most important by higher numbers of voters over age 45, moderates, women and registered Democrats, as opposed to unaffiliated voters. A majority of voters younger than 45, however, say shared values and beliefs is more important than winning the general election, by a 9-point margin.
Nearly all the presidential candidates have campaigned in Colorado in recent weeks, with large rallies held by Sanders, Trump, Buttigieg and Warren.
According to the Magellan poll, Sanders holds a 29-point lead among voters younger than 45 and a 21-point lead among voters who describe themselves as very liberal. Among self-described moderates, Sanders is in a virtual tie with Buttigieg and Bloomberg, with 18% support to their 17%.
Voters age 65 and older prefer Bloomberg, who has 19% support, and Biden, at 18%, over the 15% for Sanders.
In the 45-64 age group, Buttigieg and Sanders are tied for the lead with 20% each, followed closely by Warren with 18%. (The pollster cautions against drawing any firm conclusions from the candidates' performances in the subgroups, because the margin of error soars compared to the poll's sample as a whole.)
The results of the Magellan survey are similar to a Colorado Democratic primary poll released Wednesday by Data For Progress, a left-leaning organization that says it uses "state-of-the-art techniques in data science to support progressive activists and causes."
That poll found Sanders leading Warren by 14 points, 34% to 20%, with Buttigieg and Bloomberg tied for third place with 14% each, followed by Biden at 10% support. None of the other candidates had support in the double digits. The survey's margin of error was 4.7%.