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Sanders Pulls Ahead Of Clinton In New Hampshire, Poll Shows

Wilfredo Lee/Robert F. Bukaty
A new poll shows Sen. Bernie Sanders beating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, 44 percent to 37 percent.

A new poll ahead of New Hampshire's Democratic primary next year shows something a lot of politicos may not have expected just a few months ago: Sen. Bernie Sanders beating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in that primary.

The poll, from Franklin Pierce University and The Boston Herald, has the Vermont Independent senator topping Clinton, 44 percent to 37 percent. Back in March, Sanders was polling at just 8 percent in New Hampshire, to Clinton’s 47 percent.

Kelly Myers, who conducted the poll, joined VPR to explain what’s changed.

On Sanders’ surge

“One of the things that's definitely occurred is that Hillary Clinton's campaign is really stalled, and she really doesn't have much momentum and she continues to be dogged by a lot of controversies related to the e-mail questions. That doesn't seem like it's likely to go away. But more importantly, Bernie Sanders has really upped his game. He's been extremely vocal. He's been pulling together huge crowds wherever he goes. With Elizabeth Warren out of the race he's really filled that void in the party for a progressive voice. And right now he's doing extremely well, not just in New Hampshire but you can see by the crowds that he's drawing in other states that he's really catching fire.”

On the majority who believe Hillary Clinton will ultimately get the nomination

“I'm not sure that has a lot of significance right now. I think that there is still a widespread perception that Hillary Clinton is the presumptive nominee. I think these poll numbers suggest that she's in for a more competitive contest. I think that's probably good for her. And it also indicates that there are a lot of Democratic voters out there that are receptive to a message that Bernie Sanders is putting out there; that they just don't associate Hillary Clinton with the voice of progressive politics.”

On Democrats’ high favorable ratings

“The poll that we did on the Republican side, you have 16 candidates, but most of them have high unfavorable ratings. Very few of them have these overwhelming positive ratings to negative ratings. On the Democratic side, you've got something very different … a situation where there are three candidates that have extremely high favorable ratings. Those are numbers that any of the Republican candidates would love to have, and none of them do right now."

On skepticism that Sanders could defeat a Republican in the general election

“I think he takes his case directly to his Democratic base and appeals to the issues that are important to him. That's where his support is coming from. That's where these crowds are turning out. It's the same thing that on the Republican side you can see the Donald Trump has had success using that very similar strategy of appealing to some fundamental core beliefs of the party. I don't think that his campaign is going to last as long as Bernie Sanders' will. But I think that Sanders, all he needs to do is continue to demonstrate his electoral support that he has with voters."

On why one poll about one state primary matters for Sanders

“It clearly is an indication that Hillary Clinton is going to need to change her campaign a little bit. She's not going to be able to just campaign against Republicans. She's going to have to fight within her own party to win that nomination. This is the signal that Hillary Clinton is somewhat vulnerable. Although she's well liked, there's not a lot of enthusiasm for a campaign right now.”

Alex was a reporter and host of VPR's local All Things Considered. He was also the co-host and co-creator of the VPR program Brave Little State.
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