AUGUSTA, Maine — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont had a commanding Maine lead in the fractured Democratic presidential primary in a poll released Tuesday by Colby College finding only one other candidate meeting a threshold to win delegates in the state.
Sanders led the eight-way race with 25 percent of votes, with former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, in second place with 16 percent of votes. They were the only candidates to break a 15 percent threshold that will be required during the March 3 to qualify for delegates.
Another 12 percent of Democrats were undecided in the survey of 350 likely Democratic primary voters by the Waterville college and SocialSphere, a Massachusetts-based polling firm, by phone and online last month and it included three candidates who are no longer in the race.
The Maine Democratic Party will allocate 24 pledged delegates according to primary results by congressional district and statewide. If these polling results were applied evenly across the state, Sanders would get 14 national convention delegates, with Buttigieg getting the other 10.
Democratic voters will only be able to choose one candidate at the polls on Election Day. While the Maine Legislature passed a bill last year expanding ranked-choice voting to presidential races, Gov. Janet Mills delayed the implementation of a law until after the primary.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was the third-place candidate in the survey, with 14 percent support, ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden at 12 percent and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — who was the first to organize in Maine last year — at 9 percent. No other candidate reached more than 4 percent.
Biden and Warren led in two different polls of Maine when the presidential race was last surveyed in October, but the one-time favorites have sunk at the expense of Sanders, Bloomberg and Buttigieg since then in national polling. Sanders is now favored in the race with a 38 percent chance of winning the nomination, according to FiveThirtyEight.
The Vermont senator figured to do well in Maine after easily winning the 2016 Democratic caucuses easily here. He and Warren have had the most active canvassing operations in the state with Buttigieg signaling an organizing push beginning this week in Maine. Biden’s operation has been largely nonexistent in the state.
Bloomberg is a wild card as he begins his presidential bid in Maine and more than a dozen other states that will vote on “Super Tuesday.” The billionaire has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into an unprecedented advertising-driven campaign, hiring 20 staffers in Maine alone while spending $1.75 million on TV ads, according to data collected by FiveThirtyEight.