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‘It just really motivates us,’ Grassroots groups respond to new UW-Madison poll results

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Hunter Ellis (left) and Kyra Peterson staff the phone bank at Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Madison campaign office.

MADISON (WKOW) -- The results of a new UW-Madison poll energized some Democratic grassroots activists Sunday while it had others feeling defiant. The survey from the Elections Research Center found that nearly 30% of the 1,000 respondents in Wisconsin favored Senator Bernie Sanders (I - Vermont).

Behind Sanders, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (13%), former Vice President Joe Biden (13%), former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg (12%), and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (12%) all trailed by a wide margin.

At the Madison Labor Temple, Sanders supporters strategized over how to maximize the amount of delegates they will have in the Wisconsin contingent at the Democratic National Convention this summer in Milwaukee. Organizers said the poll results provided an extra jolt of energy Sunday.

"It just really motivates us here in Wisconsin because we know that hard work has paid off and we're ready and willing to continue it right here," said Laura Valderrama.

Volunteers for Sanders said they were also thrilled with his dominant performance over the weekend in the Nevada caucuses. They said his support with Latino and Independent voters in that state pushed back against the notion he cannot build a diverse coalition.

"Just look at what he's accomplished so far," Valderrama said. "Groups of people from all backgrounds are coming together because they know this is what it's going to take."

On the east side, the phone bank continued to buzz at Warren's Madison campaign office.

"We're going to be doing a lot of calls here, and then this weekend we're going to start actually canvassing out in Madison," said Warren supporter, Hunter Ellis.

Warren volunteers said they're about to embark on door-to-door canvassing over the next six weeks before the Wisconsin primary. They said that will be their opportunity to convert voters who may be leaning toward Sanders but aren't fully committed.

"From being on the ground and talking to people, people's minds can change so quickly," said Warren volunteer, Kyra Peterson. "Polls don't really mean that much to me."

Valderrama said she's well aware of questions about whether Sanders can truly unify the Democratic base, let alone the general electorate. Her organization, Wisconsin For Bernie, is not affiliated with the Sanders campaign. Nevertheless, the group will stage "unity events" next month in Milwaukee, Appleton and Madison.

27 News contacted the Biden, Bloomberg, and Buttigieg campaigns on Sunday; none of them responded. A 27 News reporter also contacted the Wisconsin Press Secretary for President Donald Trump's re-election campaign but did not receive a statement.

A. J. Bayatpour

Reporter, WKOW 27

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