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New National Poll Gives Bernie Sanders Lead For First Time

By  Ashe Schow
Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, "World News Tonight" Anchor and Managing Editor David Muir, ABC News Correspondent Linsey Davis and Univision Anchor Jorge Ramos moderate the Democratic debate from Texas Southern University's Health & PE Center in Houston, TX on Thursday, September 12 on ABC and Univision (8-11 ET).
Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is surging… to about where former Vice President Joe Biden is in the Democratic primary polls.

In the latest national poll from NBC/Wall Street Journal, Sanders takes the lead for the first time ever, with 27% of Democratic primary voters saying they would vote for the Vermont socialist. Biden took 26% of the vote in the new poll – a statistical tie with Sanders and well within the poll’s large (+/- 4.74%) margin of error. Still, it’s the first time Sanders has topped a national poll, according to NBC News.

The outlet reported that despite the statistical tie, Sanders has an edge thanks to his supporter base, which are known to be rather loyal.

“But Sanders’ most powerful advantage may be the loyalty of his backers. Sixty percent of his supporters say they will definitely vote for him, while 48 percent say the same for Biden,” NBC reported. “And despite worries that Sanders’ progressive politics might make him completely unpalatable to the Democratic Party’s centrists and potential swing voters, just 12 percent of Democratic primary voters say they are ‘very uncomfortable’ with his candidacy, a share that’s statistically comparable to those who say the same of his rivals.”

The latest survey shows Sanders made a six-point gain from his previous standing at 21% in December.

The latest poll puts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in third place with 15% of the vote – down from 18% in December. The poll also shows that the tens of millions of dollars former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been dropping on advertising seems to be working, as he comes in fourth place with 9% – up from 4% in December.

Even with the new poll, Sanders still trails Biden overall. The Real Clear Politics polling average still gives Biden an edge with 28.5% over Biden’s 23.3%.

More from NBC:

More voters choose him as their second choice candidate (20 percent) than choose Sanders (15 percent), although Warren bests both with 23 percent second-choice support.

While equal shares of Democratic voters overall say they are either “comfortable with” or “enthusiastic about” Biden (70 percent) and Sanders (69 percent), those who have similarly warm feelings toward Buttigieg, Klobuchar or Bloomberg all express more comfort with Biden than with Sanders.

And Biden has an edge among the almost seven-in-ten Democratic voters who say that one of their top priorities in choosing a candidate is his or her ability to beat President Donald Trump. Among those voters, Biden leads the field with 32 percent, compared with 21 percent for Sanders.

The poll looked at how the two candidates’ coalitions view capitalism vs. socialism, with obvious results.

“Among Sanders supporters, just 12 percent have a positive view of capitalism, while 48 percent have a negative one. But a majority — 60 percent — view socialism positively, while just 4 percent disagree, a net positive rating of 56 percentage points,” NBC reported. “Biden’s backers, on the other hand, are generally fairly positive towards capitalism, with 40 percent viewing it favorably and 26 percent viewing it negatively. But more of his supporters give socialism a thumbs down (35 percent) than a thumbs up (31 percent), yielding a net negative rating of 4 percentage points.”

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