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Jun 16, 2015 10:12 AM

Steinhauser: Shocking new poll in NH suggests Sanders giving Clinton real fight

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD – A new poll suggests that New Hampshire’s 2016 Democratic primary may be up for grabs.

According to a survey released Tuesday by Suffolk University, 41% of likely Democratic primary voters said if the Granite State presidential primary was held today, they’d vote for Hillary Clinton, with 31% saying they’d back Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Until now, Clinton has been the overwhelming frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in just about all national and early primary and caucus state polling. But the Suffolk survey, conducted June 11-15, indicates Sanders could give the former secretary of state a real fight in the first-in-the-nation primary state. The independent senator who describes himself as a democratic socialist is energizing many on the left, including supporters of liberal hero Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who’s passing on a White House run.

“The poll is not a home run for Bernie Sanders, but it could be characterized as a line shot to deep left field,” David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, told NH1 News.

The survey suggests gender and philosophical divides between the two candidates.

“There is a clear gender gap among Democrats in New Hampshire. Among women Clinton led Sanders 47-28%, but among men she trailed 35-32%,” Paleologos said. “Political philosophy divided the candidates. Among moderate Democrats, Clinton led Sanders 46-26%, but among self-identified liberals, the race is tied 39-39%.”

The Suffolk University poll is the second straight survey to indicate a real race between Clinton and Sanders in New Hampshire. A survey released a couple of days ago by Morning Consultant indicated Clinton at 44% and Sanders at 32%.

According to the Suffolk poll, Vice President Joe Biden’s at 7% support. The vice president has not ruled out running again for the Democratic nomination, but he has taken no visible steps towards setting up any kind of campaign structure. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who recently announced his bid for the nomination, stands at three percent in the survey. Former Rhode Island governor and senator Lincoln Chafee, who’s also an announced candidate, is at one percent, as is former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, who’s mulling a White House run.

Fifteen percent are undecided.

The poll indicates that two-thirds of likely Democratic voters are very or somewhat satisfied about the field of presidential candidates, with 29% somewhat or very dissatisfied.

Seventy-two percent of those polled said they have a favorable opinion of Clinton, with 19% saying they see her in an unfavorable light and 8% unsure. Sanders has a 62%-9% favorable/unfavorable rating, with a third undecided.

Of those who are not backing Clinton, 12% said it’s because they don’t trust her or think she lies or is corrupt, with 10% saying they prefer Sanders.

Asked about the poll, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley told NH1 News that “we have always said that this is going to be a contested primary. We have always said that New Hampshire enjoys tripping up frontrunners. Just ask George W. Bush in 2000. Just ask Ed Muskie in 1972, and all through the decades."

"So it is not surprising the polls have tightened. There’s a genuine excitement about Sen. Sanders campaign," Buckley added. "We’ve got an exciting primary on our hands. It’s going to attract a lot of new voters. “

Five-hundred likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire were questioned by telephone in the Suffolk University poll. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.4% points.

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