Bernie Sanders, who at 78 years old ranks as the oldest Democratic presidential candidate, continues to attract the country’s youngest voters. According to the second installment of the monthly Forbes Under 30 Voter Survey, Powered By Zogby Strategies, the Democratic Socialist expanded his lead to an impressive 22 points among likely Democratic primary and caucus voters ages 18 to 29. Of those surveyed, 38% ranked the Vermont senator as their top pick. Last month, that number was closer to 32%, with Sanders’ lead hovering around 16 points.
Trailing Sanders, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg came in a distant second, with 16% of respondents naming the billionaire as their first choice. Meanwhile, 13% of young voters chose former vice president Joe Biden, 9% Senator Elizabeth Warren and 7% former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Sanders outperforms his peers on a host of other metrics, too. He’s the favorite candidate among both men and women, Democrats and independents, and whites, Hispanics and African Americans within this young cohort. His favorable-to-unfavorable ratio—65% to 27%—is the best of the bunch. (Biden is the only other candidate to earn more than half of the voters’ approval, with 52% viewing the former vice president either “somewhat” or “very” favorably.)
Consistent with last month’s findings, these numbers come as no surprise; young voters are a cornerstone of the Sanders campaign. And his support is growing—our most recent poll shows that 36% of young voters now see Sanders as the best hope for beating President Donald Trump, up from 29% in January. This number, in particular, should have some of Sanders’ closer-to-center competitors sweating. Candidates who once banked on the broad appeal of a moderate campaign may need to recalibrate if they want to attract the under-30 set. In terms of electability, other candidates have dropped in the polls. Only 13% of young voters see Biden as the best bet in the general election, down from 20% last month. Buttigieg nabbed 6% of this metric and Senator Amy Klobuchar held steady at a paltry 4%.
On the other hand, Bloomberg—who, with a net worth of $59.4 billion, stands in stark opposition to Sanders—has reason to celebrate his second-place finish. Out of all the Democratic candidates, the media tycoon gained the most traction over the last month. His 16% slice of the electoral pie represents a significant surge from just 8% the month prior. Likewise, his favorability ratio is up to 45% from 32%, and 16% view him as the candidate most likely to beat Trump, compared to just 7% in January.
Bloomberg’s upswing is bad news for the other Democratic moderates who desperately need momentum. Without a last-minute breakout surge, the end is likely near for businessman Tom Steyer, Representative Tulsi Gabbard and Senator Klobuchar. While a vice-presidential bid might make a fitting consolation prize, these long shots received 6%, 2% and 5%, respectively, when voters were asked to name their second choice.
Courting the youth vote can prove auspicious for presidential hopefuls. In 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama received 66% and 61%, respectively, from the 18- to 29-year-old vote. In the months to come, Forbes will keep a close eye on how the candidates fare among this coveted demographic. After all, this cohort will hold sway over U.S. politics for the next 50 years—or more. The Forbes Under 30 Voter Survey, Powered By Zogby Strategies, was conducted online on February 23, 2020, and February 24, 2020, and consisted of 1,005 likely voters (including 619 likely Democratic primary and caucus voters) ages 18 to 29. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points.