Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) waves at attendees during a campaign event in Huntington, W. Va., on April 26, 2016.
Photo by Ty Wright/Bloomberg/Getty

Poll: Majority of Democrats want Sanders to stay in the race through convention

Updated

After Hillary Clinton’s significant primary wins last week in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut, the Democratic front-runner is now up 14 points nationally over Bernie Sanders—the widest margin of support since early March. As the campaign moves into the final month of contests this week, Clinton’s campaign is slowly shifting focus away from beating Sanders to beating the Republican nominee in the general election in November.

Though the Clinton campaign and many in the party elite may be ready for a Sanders exit, a majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaners would like to see Sanders stay in the race through the Democratic convention in July. These results are according to the latest from the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll conducted online from April 25 through May 1 of 14,640 adults including 12,462 registered voters.

The question for Clinton becomes whether she will be able to effectively win over Sanders’ supporters in the coming months. This will largely depend on when—or if—Sanders decides to leave the primary race. While it’s highly improbable that Sanders can catch up to Clinton’s delegate lead, he is hoping to win a majority of pledged delegates and to persuade more superdelegates in the coming weeks as a last ditch effort to keep the race competitive.

A 57 percent majority of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters agree that Sanders should stay in the race through the convention in July. A quarter think he should drop out in June if he still running behind after the final primary contest, and only 16 percent think he should drop out of the race now. 

Unsurprisingly, 89 percent of Sanders’ supporters say they would like to see Sanders stay in the race through the Democratic convention in July. Another 10 percent say he should drop out in June if he still running behind after the final primary.

While Clinton’s supporters are much more divided on what Sanders should do, a sizable 28 percent of Clinton’s supporters agree that Sanders should stay in the race through the convention. A plurality—40 percent—would like to see him drop out after the final primary race in June even if he still behind. Only three in 10 would like to see him drop out now. 

This majority support among Democrats for Sanders remaining in the race until the convention may point to signs that Democrats see Sanders as beneficial to Clinton’s candidacy primarily by sharpening her message and making her ready for a general election that will likely be very negative.

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll was conducted online April 25 through May 1, 2016 among a national sample of 14,640 adults aged 18 and over, including 12,462 who say they are registered to vote. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Results have an error estimate of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.  For full results and methodology for this weekly tracking poll, please click here.


The presidential campaign: Bernie Sanders
The self-described democratic socialist is known for pushing change on income inequality, college affordability and criminal justice reform.

Poll: Majority of Democrats want Sanders to stay in the race through convention

Updated