Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are neck and neck in the North Carolina Democratic primary, NBC/Marist poll says

Key Points
  • Bernie Sanders narrowly leads Joe Biden in the North Carolina 2020 Democratic presidential primary, according to an NBC News/Marist poll.
  • The state awards 110 pledged delegates, one of the biggest prizes of the 14 states holding primaries on Super Tuesday. 
  • Biden is looking to capitalize after a resounding victory Saturday in the South Carolina primary.
  • Leading Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham also leads Republican Sen. Thom Tillis in a hypothetical matchup.
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Biden gestures towards Senator Sanders during the eighth Democratic 2020 presidential debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S.
Bryan Snyder | Reuters

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are locked in a close race in North Carolina's Democratic presidential primary, which will award a healthy chunk of delegates on Tuesday, according to an NBC News/Marist poll. 

The Vermont senator gets 26% of support among likely Democratic primary voters, narrowly topping the former vice president at 24%. The gap falls within the survey's margin of error. 

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg trails the pair with 15% of support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., follows with 11%. 

Here's how the rest of the field fares in the North Carolina poll: 

  • Sanders: 26%
  • Biden: 24%
  • Bloomberg: 15%
  • Warren: 11% 
  • Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg: 7%
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.: 5%
  • Billionaire activist Tom Steyer: 2% (Steyer dropped out of the race Saturday night after the survey was taken)
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii: 1% 
  • Undecided: 7%

After Biden's resounding victory in South Carolina on Saturday, North Carolina will offer another test of his support in states with a large share of black voters in the Democratic electorate. Bloomberg will be on the ballot for the first time Tuesday, and has drawn significant support in Super Tuesday states as he piles hundreds of millions of dollars into his campaign. 

As Sanders narrowly leads Biden in the pledged national delegate count, both have cast themselves as the best candidate to defeat President Donald Trump in November. North Carolina, which supported Trump in the 2016 election, could prove competitive in the general election, according to the NBC/Marist poll. 

Sanders gets 48% of support among registered voters in a hypothetical race against Trump, while the Republican incumbent gets 46%. Biden leads Trump by a slightly wider margin in a head-to-head matchup: 49% to 45%. 

In November, one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents will also try to defend his seat in what could be a swing state. Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican, has tied himself closely to Trump as he runs for reelection. 

In the primary to face Tillis, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham has a wide lead over state Sen. Erica Smith, 51% to 18%. 

In a potential general election race, Cunningham has a 48% to 43% edge over Tillis. 

The NBC News/Marist poll, taken from Feb. 23 through Feb. 27, surveyed 2,120 registered voters with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.6 percentage points. It polled 568 likely Democratic primary voters with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5.1 percentage points. 

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