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Bernie Sanders becomes top candidate for college students

Data: College Reaction; Note: *Kamala Harris dropped out Dec. 3, results have a ±3.1 margin of error; Chart: Axios Visuals

Over the last two months, Bernie Sanders has overtaken Elizabeth Warren as the top 2020 Democratic candidate among college students, according to a new College Reaction/Axios poll.

The big picture: Warren's recent decline among college students mirrors polling of the general population, but while Pete Buttigieg has been gaining among all voters during that time, Sanders is the one who's gained the most among students.

Between the lines: Warren's descent in national polls followed criticism around how she planned to pay for Medicare for All.

  • But the corresponding spike for Sanders — who wrote the Medicare for All legislation — among college students is a sign that their problems with Warren aren't due to her support for the idea.

By the numbers: Buttigieg was the only other candidate to gain more than 1 point in this poll since October.

  • President Trump ranks second in the poll, behind Sanders and ahead of Warren. But he's the sole Republican alternative, while students who prefer Democrats have divided loyalties. Considered another way, less than one in five college students would vote for the president.

Flashback: In April, Biden led the College Reaction/Axios polling of college students at 18.9%, with Sanders second at 15.1%.

Methodology: The poll was conducted Dec. 2-4 from a representative sample of 1,026 college students with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

College Reaction’s polling is conducted using a demographically representative panel of college students from around the country. The surveys are administered digitally and use college e-mail addresses as an authentication tool to ensure current enrollment in a four-year institution. The target for the general population sample was students currently enrolled in accredited 4-year institutions in the United States.