WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders holds a double-digit lead over his closest Democratic rival in Texas, while he’s essentially tied with Joe Biden in North Carolina, according to a pair of NBC News/Marist polls of these two key Super Tuesday states taken before Biden's convincing victory in South Carolina.
In Texas, which will award a total of 228 pledged delegates in the Democratic contest on March 3, Sanders gets the support of 34 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, and Biden gets 19 percent.
They’re followed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at 15 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at 10 percent, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 8 percent and Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 3 percent.
In North Carolina, which will award 110 delegates on the same day, Sanders gets support from 26 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, while Biden gets 24 percent — a difference well within the poll’s margin of error.
Bloomberg is at 15 percent in North Carolina, Warren is at 11 percent, Buttigieg is at 7 percent and Klobuchar is at 5 percent.
“North Carolina is a tossup between Sanders and Biden for Super Tuesday,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted these surveys for NBC News.
But when it comes to Texas, Miringoff adds, “Sanders is positioned to carry the state, although nearly one in four likely voters is still on the fence.”
The polls were conducted Feb. 23-27, before Biden’s lopsided victory Saturday in the South Carolina primary.
A total of 14 states — including Texas, North Carolina, California and Virginia — will hold their Democratic primaries on March 3, awarding more that 1,300 pledged delegates, about 34 percent of all the pledged delegates up for grabs in the entire Democratic presidential race.
Under the Democratic Party’s delegate-allocation rules, a candidate who doesn’t get at least 15 percent — statewide and in congressional or state Senate districts (for Texas) — doesn’t qualify for delegates to take to the Democratic convention in Milwaukee.
As in past primaries and polling, Sanders overperforms in these two states among likely Democratic primary voters under the age of 45, self-described progressives, and Latinos.
Biden, meanwhile, does the best among likely Democratic primary voters over 45, self-described moderates, and African Americans.
Sizing up the general election in North Carolina and Texas
In North Carolina, 45 percent of all registered voters approve of President Donald Trump’s job, while 48 percent disapprove.
Both Sanders (48 percent to 46 percent) and Biden (49 percent to 45 percent) lead Trump in hypothetical general election matchups among registered voters, though both results are within the margin of error.
And Democrats enjoy a 4-point advantage in congressional preference in North Carolina, with 46 percent of all voters preferring a Democratic-controlled Congress as the outcome from November’s elections, and with 42 percent wanting Republicans in charge.
In Texas, 49 percent of registered voters approve of Trump’s job, while 44 percent disapprove.
Trump narrowly leads both Sanders and Biden by the exact same margin (49 percent to 45 percent) in a hypothetical general election in the state.
And Republicans hold a 6-point lead in congressional preference in the state, 48 percent to 42 percent.
Looking down the ballot
In North Carolina’s Democratic Senate primary for the opportunity to face Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in the fall, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham gets support from 51 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, while state Sen. Erica Smith gets 18 percent.
In a hypothetical general election matchup, Cunningham leads Tillis by 5 points, 48 percent to 43 percent.
And in Texas’s Democratic Senate primary for the right to challenge Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, former 2018 congressional nominee MJ Hegar gets the backing of 16 percent of likely primary voters, community organizer Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez gets 9 percent and state Sen. Royce West gets 8 percent.
No other candidate gets more than 7 percent in the poll.
The Top 2 candidates advance to a May 26 runoff if no candidate gets more than 50 percent in the March 3 primary.
And in a hypothetical general election contest, Cornyn leads Hegar by 8 points, 49 percent to 41 percent.
The NBC News/Marist poll of North Carolina was conducted Feb. 23-27 of 2,120 registered voters, which has a margin of error of plus-minus 2.6 percentage points.
The margin of error for the 568 likely Democratic primary voters in the state is plus-minus 5.1 percentage points.
The NBC News/Marist poll of Texas was conducted Feb. 23-27 of 2,409 registered voters, which has a margin of error of plus-minus 2.5 percentage points.
The margin of error for the 556 likely Democratic primary voters is plus-minus 5.3 percentage points.