New Poll Shows Deep Split in Democratic Party

02/17/2016 12:58 pm ET Updated Feb 17, 2017

I am more convinced than ever that the path to success for the Democratic Party is to focus primarily on mobilizing the rising American electorate that is now a clear majority of the country's electorate. When you add up the numbers, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, other people of color, unmarried women, young voters and progressive whites (which include most union members, the LGBT community, Jewish voters and non-religious voters) are well over half of the general election voters.

Barack Obama won twice because he turned these constituencies out in a big way, and that strategy is clearly the path forward for the Democratic Party. The great thing about the kind of progressive populist message -- anti-Wall Street, pro-raising wages -- that appeals to these voters is that it is the same message that appeals to the white working class voters we also need to win elections.

My focus on this idea is what led me to be such a big enthusiast of Steve Phillips' new book Brown Is the New White which lays out the numbers beautifully, and why I have been such a big fan of Elizabeth Warren's progressive populism, which is the right political message for the moment. It is also why my organization, American Family Voices, sometimes sponsors polling research about Democratic base voters to figure out what and who they are motivated by in terms of their voting patterns.

With Super Tuesday coming up, and the Democratic base badly divided in terms of their candidate for president, we wanted to do a poll in Super Tuesday primary states asking voters not only where they were on the Hillary/Bernie race, but what they were thinking about some underlying issues. I will be writing more about that research in the days to come, as I go deeper into the cross tabs and analyze the data further, but since I know everyone is obsessing about the state of the race, I asked the folks at PPP, who did the poll for us, to go ahead and release the horserace numbers today.

The numbers aren't surprising. The South was never likely to be hospitable to Bernie, and it still isn't, as African-American voters so far are staying loyal to Hillary. The two New England states, one of them Bernie's home state of Vermont, are for him. The Midwest is close. Older voters and people of color are with Hillary; younger voters and white progressives are with Bernie.

The most interesting states are the following:

Oklahoma, which is in the Midwest, but also has Southern characteristics, is a dead heat at 46-44 Hillary. This is a little strange, as Oklahoma is one of the most conservative states in the country. On the other hand, it is mostly white, and I guess if you live in Oklahoma and are still a Democrat, you have to be pretty liberal. If Bernie pulls off a win here, it would be an important story.

Massachusetts is for Bernie, but right now only by seven points. Given that the state is mostly white and has a ton of students and young people, I would have guessed a bigger margin for him there. If Hillary manages to come in and win here, it would be a huge blow to Bernie, so my advice to Bernie would be to play hard here and solidify your win.

Michigan is the most important state after Super Tuesday. Everyone expects big wins for Hillary down South, so if these numbers hold it won't be that big a story, but Bernie is currently only 10 down in Michigan, a bellwether Midwestern state. In spite of the big black population here, Bernie is within range to pull out a win, and if he does that would be a big deal. (If he were to also win the Minnesota caucuses, the combination of the two would be huge.)

Bottom line, the Democratic Party is split. This poll shows that the split is deep. After the primary, it will be our job as Democrats and progressives to bring everybody back together. We need both the Hillary and Bernie constituencies fired and ready to go.