BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Nearly one in four likely Democratic voters in Maryland picked Bernie Sanders as their preferred candidate in the 2020 presidential race, earning him frontrunner status in the state, according to a new Goucher College poll.

The poll found the independent Vermont senator leading his Democratic rivals by a margin of at least eight percent; the second-most popular candidate, Joe Biden, had 18 percent support, followed by Mike Bloomberg with 16 percent.

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Among the other candidates, seven percent of likely Democratic voters said their top pick was Pete Buttigieg, while six percent of voters each chose Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

A sizeable number of voters — 18 percent — said they have no preference or are undecided on who to support.

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Nearly three-quarters of likely Democratic voters held a favorable view toward Sanders, the highest favorability of any Democratic candidate.

When it comes to the general election, each of the listed Democratic candidates — Sanders, Biden, Bloomberg, Klobuchar, Warren, Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard — beat Republican President Donald Trump in a hypothetical match-up. Sanders beat Trump with the largest margin, earning 61 percent support compared to the president’s 34 percent. Biden fared second-best against Trump, earning 60 percent support compared to Trump’s 35 percent.

Forty-seven percent of likely Democratic voters also said it was more important to them to pick a candidate who could beat President Trump, compared to 39 percent who said it was more important for them to pick a candidate with whom they agree on the most issues.

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Respondents also gave the president a thumbs down when it comes to job performance: 31 percent said Trump was doing a good job while 62 percent disapproved of his performance.

Those numbers are an improvement for the president, who saw a disapproval rating of as high as 71 percent in Goucher’s September 2017 and September 2018 polls.

Trump’s approval rating of 31 percent in the latest poll is the highest it’s been since September 2017.

Just 13 percent of respondents approved of the way Congress is doing its job while 79 percent disapproved.

The poll was conducted by phone between February 13 and February 19 and included 929 Maryland adults, including 718 who were identified as likely voters.

The results are a significant shift from the Goucher poll in September: that poll showed Joe Biden with a healthy lead — 33 percent — over Elizabeth Warren at 21 percent and Bernie Sanders at 10 percent.

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View the full poll here.

Vic Carter