The latest Public Policy Polling (PPP) primary results revealed Bernie Sanders ahead of former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the White House.
The polls, conducted in three of the five April 26 primary states, surveying likely voters in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania was conducted on behalf of VoteVets.Org Action Fund. The results on the Democratic side showed Sanders and Clinton locked into a competitive race.
According to the poll, in Rhode Island, Sanders has a 4 percent lead holding 49 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 45 percent.
Former president drops in
On Monday, former President Bill Clinton returned to Rhode Island, his second trip to the smallest state in the nation in weeks.
Clinton made two quick drop-ins at low profile stops, addressing captive audiences. According to media reports, the former president dropped in at the Woonsocket Senior Center, before heading into the capital city of Providence to visit the South Street Landing construction site.
Non-partisan but not insignificant
The poll revealed a tight contest in Connecticut. Clinton has a slight lead in neighboring Connecticut at 2 percent with 48 percent of the vote to Sanders 46 percent. The Independent vote factors in both Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Rhode Island holds a mixed primary, where the state’s unaffiliated voters are allowed to choose a party ballot on primary day and may unaffiliate after voting if they choose. According to the Independent Voter Project, half of Rhode Island’s voters are unaffiliated.
Sanders polls highest with Independents dominating the unaffiliated vote. The longest serving Independent in Congress, Sanders’ anti-establishment message resonates with the unaffiliated and Independent voter base. According to the poll, Sanders was up 67 to Clinton’s 28 percent among Independents planning to vote in the Democratic primary, putting the Vermont senator in the overall lead.
At stake in the election, on the ballots, are the preferred presidential candidates and state convention delegates. The number of delegates on a voter’s ballot is dependent on voting district, party affiliation and a complex distribution of votes for citizen chosen delegates vs. party-chosen delegates.
In Connecticut, the Independent or unaffiliated vote count in October 2015 neared 1 million registered voters. Independent voters in Connecticut’s closed primary had until Monday to affiliate for the primary election.
Connecticut’s youth registered and ready
Also significant for Sanders is the youth vote turnout where he has consistently outperformed Clinton by wide margins. According to a release by the Office of the Secretary of State, the Connecticut youth vote grew by tens of thousands in 2016, in anticipation of Tuesday’s presidential primary.
“Of new voters who registered in 2016, people under 30-years-old are the largest group. These are young people who we hope will make a lifelong habit of participating in our democracy.” –Denise Merrill, Connecticut Secretary of State
“Between January and April 21, more than 39,000 people ages 18-to-29-years-old registered to vote,” Merrill said.
More than 6,000 qualifying 17 year-olds also registered. In Connecticut, as long as they are expected to turn 18 prior to the general election, they are allowed to vote in the primary.
“This is exciting and there is nothing like competitive races to get people engaged,” Merrill said.
Sanders joined six 17 year-old Ohio youth in March, in an action to allow their votes in the primary. The state’s Republican Secretary of State, Joh Husted, issued a directive stating that only eligible voters aged 18 and up were allowed to cast ballots in the primary election.
According to a News 8, WTNH report in April, Sec. of State Denise Merrill’s office reported nearly 22,000 unaffiliated voters had changed their registration to a major party in 2016.
The report revealed 14,000 registered Connecticut voters switching from unaffiliated to Democrat and 8,200 from unaffiliated to Republican.
Clinton’s lead in Connecticut is dependent on the African-American vote where she holds a commanding 63/24 lead over Sanders. Consistent with earlier polling, Clinton holds a stronger lead among registered Democrats.
In Pennsylvania, the PPP poll showed that the former Secretary of State holds a 10-point lead, at 51 percent to Sanders 41 percent. Field polls reporting a closer race than most public polls have shown over the last few weeks.
Trump atop the GOP field
On the Republican side, real estate mogul Donald Trump holds the majority vote in all three states by commanding margins.
Trump’s Rhode Island lead was the most significant where he garnered 61 percent of the vote to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 23 percent. Texas Senator Ted Cruz received 13 percent of the Ocean State vote. Connecticut, that shares a border with Rhode Island, held along the same lines. Trump garnered 59 percent to Kasich at 25 percent. Cruz remained at 13 percent.
In Pennsylvania, Trump lost a little ground, while holding his command on the lead at 51 percent. Cruz took second place at 25 percent to Kasich’s 22.
Delaware and Maryland are also participating in Tuesday’s 5-state primary showdown.