Florida polling average: Joe Biden leads Bernie Sanders by a mile

Here’s what 15 polls of Florida say about the Democratic presidential primary.
Sens. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
Sens. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. [ TARA MCCARTY | Tara McCarty ]
Published March 13, 2020|Updated March 17, 2020

It’s hard to keep up with every political poll. So the Tampa Bay Times is doing it for you.

For Florida’s Democratic presidential primary (on Tuesday) and general election (on Nov. 3), the Times is logging polls and keeping track of a simple moving average. We won’t predict a winner, but we do want to help our readers keep up with the presidential race in the country’s largest swing state.

For most of the winter, there had not been many polls of Florida. But as Tuesday’s election approaches, pollsters have released a flurry of surveys, helping us pin where the leading candidates fall in the race.

As of Thursday evening, Joe Biden had 57 percent support in Florida on average, to Bernie Sanders’ 19 percent. Former Vice President Biden leads by 38 percentage points, with three times as much support as Vermont Sen. Sanders.

In all likelihood, Biden’s average in the polls will shoot up even further once we get another one — every poll we’ve seen since Michael Bloomberg dropped out shows Biden above 60 percent.

Right now, national outlets also estimate Biden’s support in Florida is about three times as high as Sanders’. FiveThirtyEight pegs his Sunshine State lead at 66-23. RealClearPolitics says 65-22.

While Biden coasted along as a frontrunner in Florida, Sanders never performed well in the state. No survey showed the senator polling at higher than 20 percent until Wednesday.

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And after Bloomberg (who was performing better than Sanders in Florida) dropped out, Biden surged in the polls more than Sanders did. Even Biden’s worst poll after the contest became essentially a two-person race puts him at 61 percent support, 30 points above his average beforehand. Sanders’ best poll shows him jumping just 12 points above his prior average.

All this spells trouble for Sanders. The New York Times projects Biden would need to do more than 12 points worse in remaining states than he has so far to fall short of an outright majority in the Democratic primary. He’d need to drop by 17 points to fall behind Sanders.

Florida allocates 219 delegates in the Democratic race, the largest pot remaining except for New York’s, which won’t come until April 28. Biden is poised to take a large majority of Florida’s delegates.

No poll is perfect. Of the fifteen we considered, the average listed margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. At any point in time, our average considers the five most recent polls from unique pollsters. As of Thursday, that meant the earliest poll in the mix was completed Feb. 22.