With the 2016 West Virginia primary polls indicating a win for Bernie Sanders, the relatively small state is being closely watched by the Democratic Socialist candidate's supporters.
West Virginia is generally too late in the primary game to warrant much attention to its polling data. That lack of weight isn't exactly aided by the fact that it offers a comparatively small 37 delegates -- one of the least significant prizes of the entire Democratic contest. Additionally, eight of those are superdelegates.
Luckily for West Virginia primary voters, the 2016 race for the presidency has been unlike any other. Bernie and Hillary Clinton are continuing to battle it out with just a few months remaining until the Democratic convention in Philadelphia at the end of July. That's partially because Sanders -- despite lagging significantly behind Hillary in both pledged and unpledged delegate counts -- is set to have a strong May ahead of him if polls are accurate.
In West Virginia, Bernie is ahead in both of the state's most recent primary polls. Last week, Public Policy Polling released its findings from a survey of 549 likely Democratic voters. In that poll, Sanders came out ahead of Clinton by eight percentage points, snagging 45 percent compared to her 37 percent. Even with the 3.9 percent margin of error, Bernie will still easily triumph over Hillary if these numbers prove to be accurate.
Another poll from Repass Research and Strategic Consulting and MetroNews that was released the day after the PPP data indicates a similar outcome. In that West Virginia primary head-to-head, Bernie managed to walk away with 47 percent of the vote to Clinton's 43 percent. Still, 11 percent of respondents said that they were still undecided.
While Sanders has gained ground in national polls as the primary season has worn on, he actually lost some of his lead between the latest survey and the MetroNews' February version. At that time, Bernie had 57 percent support among West Virginia voters, nearly double Hillary's 29 percent share.
Rex Repass, CEO of Repass Research and director of the MetroNews West Virginia primary poll, stated that the final results would largely depend on whose key demographics had the strongest showing on Tuesday.
"The key, of course, for Sanders is a high turnout with young voters, while Clinton's support is generally older, those with a college degree or post-graduate degree and upper income Democrats."
Despite polls providing a favorable outcome in West Virginia, many political analysts say that it is mathematically impossible for Sanders to secure the nomination without landing 60 percent wins in the remaining states. Democratic strategist Joe Trippi told Politico that Bernie was a "nuisance."
"It's a distraction, because he can't win the nomination and every dollar that he spends and every time she has to defend against an attack or answer some accusation of his is money and time not spent defining Donald Trump and the Republican nominee. That's all it is at this point. I think people gave him a wide berth when he had a numeric chance but there is no math that ends up with his being the nominee, so at this point I think even the wins don't do anything but continue the inevitable problem of he can't get there from here."
For Republicans hoping for Donald Trump to shed delegates despite being the only candidate still on the campaign trail, West Virginia won't be the place where he makes any losses. In the same MetroNews poll, Donald landed 57 percent of the vote -- more than double that of his closest rival Ted Cruz.
Do you think the 2016 West Virginia primary polls have correctly predicted winning results for Bernie Sanders?
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