By Jasper Craven, VTDigger.org
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has taken a double-digit lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, just two months before Granite State voters go to the polls in the nation’s first primary.
According to the CNN/WMUR poll released Wednesday, Dec. 9, Sanders has a 50 to 40 percent advantage over the former Secretary of State.
Sanders notched a four percent increase since the same group’s September poll, pushing him to the 50 percent mark. Clinton jumped 10 points from September, but still trails Sanders among Granite State voters.
Other polling organizations have had the two candidates virtually tied. In a Public Policy Polling survey last week, Clinton was at 44 percent and Sanders at 42 percent.
In the CNN/WMUR poll, Sanders’ favorability in the state grew to 83 percent in the state, up from 78 percent in September. Clinton’s favorability was 68 percent, up one point from the last poll.
Additionally, 46 percent of the respondents said Clinton was least honest of all the candidates, a jump of more than 10 percent since September. Still, 70 percent of those polled said Clinton had the best chance of winning the general election.
Sanders held his lead even when polled voters put national security as the most important issue in the election, a topic Clinton has dominated since the Paris terror attacks. Jobs/the economy was the second most important topic for voters.
Sanders was seen as the best candidate to address most issues, including the economy, income inequality and gun policy. The only issue where Clinton held the edge was foreign policy.
The New Hampshire poll was conducted with 954 New Hampshire residents between Nov. 30 and Dec. 7.
Before the poll was released, at a campaign stop in Plymouth, N.H., over the weekend, state Field Director Julia Barnes said she was confident Sanders would win in the Granite State. She brushed off any assertion that a win would be discounted because of Vermont’s proximity to New Hampshire.
“Yes, he’s from Vermont, but Secretary Clinton has been in this state, in one form or another, for two decades,” Barnes said. “She has 100 percent name recognition, it’s not like we are getting some better recognition or better visibility because we are from next door.”
Barnes said Sanders was now putting most of his energy into winning New Hampshire, as well as the first caucus state, Iowa.
In Iowa, Clinton maintains a 22-point lead over Sanders, according to a recent poll by Monmouth University, 55 percent to 33 percent. But her lead shrunk by 19 points since late October.
Sanders holds the lead among those under 50 years old, 48 to 38 percent. Clinton holds a strong lead among female voters and a slight edge among male voters, 47 to 42 percent.
“Sanders’ path to victory in Iowa remains formidable, regardless of the size of turnout in February,” said Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth Polling.
“In New Hampshire and Iowa, Bernie is moving up,” said campaign manager Jeff Weaver. “The surveys in these states where Bernie has campaigned the hardest are another sign that the more people know him the better they like him.”
The campaign is now pointing to Sanders’ popularity among younger voters as a major advantage in a general election. A recent survey by the Harvard Institute of Politics found 41 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds favored Sanders to 35 percent for Clinton.
“I am proud that our campaign has created a level of excitement and energy not seen elsewhere and that poll after poll shows us that younger people are supporting our efforts,” Sanders said Thursday. “I believe that the excitement we are generating will result in high voter turnout and carry us to victory not only over Secretary Clinton but over Donald Trump or any other Republican candidate.”