Poll shows Bernie Sanders ahead in New Hampshire for the first time

Last night, the Boston Herald released a Franklin Pearce University poll showing Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, 44-37. Joe Biden, who has yet to enter the race, garnered 9 percent.

The same poll in March, before either Clinton or Sanders had officially entered the race, showed Clinton leading 44-8. That’s a 43 point (!) swing.

This is a big deal, and it isn’t. It’s a big deal in that it confirms what we already know in starker terms: Bernie Sanders could win New Hampshire, and possibly Iowa, as well, even if he is almost certain to lose nearly every other state to Clinton. Furthermore, it confirms, again, that Sanders’s supporters are far more excited for his candidacy than Clinton’s are. Only 35 percent of likely primary voters felt “excited” about Clinton’s candidacy, while 51 percent said that, while they could see themselves voting for her, they weren’t enthusiastic about it.

As Vox‘s Ezra Klein noted this morning, nearly as significant as Sanders’s lead in the poll is the message the poll sends to Joe Biden, who is set to announce whether he’ll enter the race some time this month. A plurality of respondents in the poll indicated that they’d like to see him enter the race, and that plurality strongly overlaps with wavering Clinton supporters. Or, in Twitterspeak:

As I’ve written before, Biden fills a hole in the electorate for Democrats who aren’t excited about Hillary, but are worried about Sanders’s electability in a general election. To that point, 65 percent of respondents indicated that they thought Clinton would be the eventual nominee, regardless as to which candidate they were supporting.

Bernie Sanders, via AFGE / Flickr

Bernie Sanders, via AFGE / Flickr

While this poll may be an outlier, it’s topline will encourage other polling firms to survey New Hampshire in the near future; and given Sanders’s lead in this poll, they will likely have to match him up with Republican candidates. If New Hampshire voters prefer Sanders to Clinton and Bush, suggesting that he is viable in a general election, we could see his primary numbers rise even more.

At the same time, the poll isn’t a big deal in that it’s just one poll, from a pollster that doesn’t have a well-established track record. Again, the last poll they conducted was in the field before any of these candidates had officially announced. As other polls of New Hampshire had found Sanders within striking distance, but not leading — let alone with a lead outside the margin of error — Sanders’s supporters would do well to wait before getting excited. This poll could very well be an outlier.

In any case, hard to call this anything other than good news for Sanders, his campaign and his supporters.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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9 Responses to “Poll shows Bernie Sanders ahead in New Hampshire for the first time”

  1. hidflect says:

    Hillary’s in real trouble. If she tries to have a rally and the turnout is less than Bernie then she’ll look like a loser. But where to find 28,001 people who would bother to show up and support her? So she’s gonna have to go small and “intimate” which is a problem since she has the charisma of wet cardboard.

  2. Bill_Perdue says:

    You can’t refute anything I said or you would have done it. When Democrats and Dixiecrats get flummoxed by the left they engage in personal attacks.

  3. Blackbird says:

    I’m just dying to refute and take issue with every little point you make but the smell of a Hillary/GOP troll here is strong. I’ll just leave it at – it’s all too silly for a legitimate rebuttal and I won’t fall into your trap.

    Troll Alert !
    (and if not… back up your points with evidence and sources)

  4. sukabi says:

    Fun fact: guess who’s president of Franklin Pierce University….

    Mr. Andrew “You don’t release new products in August” Card.

    So as much as I like Bernie, I’m going with at best this poll is an outlier.

  5. Bill_Perdue says:

    BS could win it, but if he did he’d just be another Obama – a right centrist who uses populism to cover his ass while he busts unions, supports the zionist bunkerstaat and wars of aggression to secure oil and other resources and someone who refuses to take on the root causes of racism, sexism and homophobia.

  6. Naja pallida says:

    Oh, I think Jeb! wants it. The problem is, he doesn’t actually want to work for it, he just wants his daddy’s friends to hand it to him. Like everything else he’s accomplished in life. He seems thoroughly confused when confronted and actually having to defend his record.

  7. Naja pallida says:

    Polls this far out mean precisely nothing. They only serve as a tool to give pundits and journalists something to talk about, instead of real news.

  8. Indigo says:

    There’s an old farmers’ saying that goes, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” but in this case I’d say “Don’t count your hatchlings before the chicken lays the eggs.” In less rural terms, “Too soon!”

  9. nicho says:

    From an August 29, 2003 poll: Howard Dean – 25% Dick Gephardt – 21% John Kerry – 16% Joe Lieberman – 12% John Edwards – 6%

    Things change. When the PTB settle on a candidate, all poll numbers go out the window.

    In November of 2003, Dean was declared the “unbeatable front runner.” After a three-week media barrage, from the NYT down to the local Pennysaver, he was declared “unelectable.”

    Oh, and Biden doesn’t want it. You can tell. He doesn’t have the “fire in his belly,” as they say. If you really, really want it, you don’t need to go on a retreat to figure that out. Jeb doesn’t really want it either. He’s emotionally flaccid. Both are just going through the motions.

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