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Photos: Brett Carlsen/AFP via Getty Images; Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images; Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A group of top national polls released this week show Bernie Sanders in control of the 2020 Democratic race ahead of Wednesday's debate in Las Vegas.

The state of play: Joe Biden, who has been at the top of the polls for months, plunged after lackluster performances in Iowa and New Hampshire — allowing Sanders to surge ahead as billionaire Mike Bloomberg has cut into the former vice president's lead among moderate voters.

The results

Washington Post-ABC News:

  • Sanders: 32% (up 9% since January)
  • Biden: 16% (-16%)
  • Bloomberg: 14% (+6%)
  • Warren: 12% (even)
  • Buttigieg: 8% (+8%)
  • Klobuchar: 7% (+4%)

NBC News-Wall Street Journal:

  • Sanders: 27% (even since January)
  • Biden: 15% (-11%)
  • Bloomberg: 14% (+5%)
  • Warren: 14% (-1%)
  • Buttigieg: 13% (+6%)
  • Klobuchar: 7% (+2%)

NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist:

  • Sanders: 31% (up 9% since December)
  • Bloomberg: 19% (+15%)
  • Biden: 15% (-9%)
  • Elizabeth Warren: 12% (-5%)
  • Amy Klobuchar: 9% (+5%)
  • Pete Buttigieg: 8% (-5%)

What to watch: The Nevada debate marks the first time Bloomberg has qualified and will be on stage with the rest of the contenders.

  • His rivals plan to curb his rise by painting him as a Democratic version of PresidentTrump — an egomaniac New York billionaire who's stained by sexism and racial slights, and hell-bent on buying power and puppeteering mass media, write Axios' Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen.

Worth noting: Because the primary process is conducted on a state-by-state basis, national polls often have their limitations, but these results from three major pollsters crystallize the trend lines currently at play in the race.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
37 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

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