A supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders holds up a sign before being escorted out of a rally for his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in New York City. In a McClatchy-Marist poll conducted March 29-31, one in four Sanders supporters said they will not vote for Clinton in a general election. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, April 6 (UPI) -- A new poll released Wednesday finds one of every four supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders would not vote for his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the general election if she became the party's nominee.
The poll underscores what has become an increasingly thorny problem for Clinton, the front-runner: How to dispatch Sanders without turning off his passionate supporters.
According to a McClatchy-Marist poll, 25 percent of Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents who support Sanders say they would not vote for Clinton if she wins the nomination.
Sanders has shown particular appeal among two key constituencies that helped elect Barack Obama twice: young people and white people with a college degree.
The groups most likely to say they will not vote for Clinton: independents, white voters and men.
Conversely, just 14 percent of Clinton supporters said they would not vote for Sanders if he wins the nomination and 79 percent said they would vote for him in the general election.
And while Clinton maintains a strong lead in the delegate count, Wednesday's poll is another in a string of polls that show Sanders essentially tied with Clinton nationally.
Sanders garnered 49 percent support nationally in the McClatchy-Marist poll to Clinton's 47 percent — 2 percent difference that is within the poll's margin of error.
Given that more than three-fifths of states and territories have already voted, national polls are of increasingly less significance as a barometer for who will win the nomination. Sanders won the Wisconsin primary decisively on Tuesday. Clinton holds a lead in polls in New York, her home state and the next up on the primary calendar on April 19.
Wednesday's poll was conducted before the Wisconsin vote, so it does not reflect sentiment that may have changed in Sanders' favor in the wake of his victory there.
The survey of 1,297 adults was conducted March 29-31. The poll of Democrats had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.