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Bernie Sanders wins Florida Young Dems straw poll 89%-11%

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to win Florida’s Democratic presidential primary contest on Tuesday over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but the generational enthusiasm gap was evidenced in a big way in a straw poll conducted by the state’s Young Democrats.

Sanders blew out Clinton by an overwhelming margin among Florida Young Dems, taking in 88.5 percent of the vote with more than 1,000 ballots cast, according to the group in a release Tuesday morning.

“We are thrilled at the level of participation from across the state. The straw poll mirrors the excitement of young people around Bernie Sanders,” said FYD President Ricky Nettina, who ousted a more conservative leader in 2015 at the group’s annual convention.

Still, “either Democratic candidate will have the best interest of young Americans at heart compared to the Republican candidates,” added Nettina.

The group stressed that the results do not constitute an endorsement. But it highlights Sanders’ strength among young voters, who have been a key ingredient in the 74-year-old liberal lawmaker’s string of victories in nine contests so far this primary season.

Most recently Sanders took more than 80 of the youth vote in Michigan, where he pulled a stunning upset over Clinton, who was favored by most national polls by more than 20 points just days before the vote.

On the other hand another crucial aspect has been independent voters, who exercise far more power in open primary states like Illinois and Missouri, which like Florida are set to vote Tuesday, March 15. Florida has a closed primary system meaning only registered Democrats, who skew older than the bloc buoying the Sanders insurgency, can participate.

The Florida Young Democrats poll was conducted online March 8, one week out from the election.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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