A new poll from the Boston Herald finds Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders opening a 7-point lead over presumptive Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.
Sanders has the support of 44 percent of Democrat primary voters, while Clinton earns support of 37 percent. Vice-President Joe Biden, who is not a candidate, has 9 percent.
The Herald poll, conducting by Franklin Pierce University, is the first to find Sanders leading Clinton in any early state. The polls’ results, though, are consistent with other polling in the Granite State. Clinton’s recent leads in the state have been in the single-digits, with her support in the low 40s, in line with the Herald poll.
Earlier this year, Clinton was leading the Democrat field in New Hampshire by as much as 56 points. If her name weren’t Hillary Clinton, the media would be reporting on her political free fall as the campaign for 2016 enters a more serious phase.
New Hampshire, it is important to remember, represented something of a firewall for Hillary Clinton in 2008. Barack Obama, after a commanding win in the Iowa Caucuses, looked set to wrap up the nomination quickly with a win in the first primary state. Clinton made a spirited stand in New Hampshire and edged out Obama, giving new life to her campaign and prolonging the Democrat contest for several more months.
This year, New Hampshire may be her Waterloo. No serious Democrat strategist can look at the results of the Herald poll, as well as other recent polling in the state, and not worry about the party’s prospects next November.
An interesting note about the Herald poll is that Democrat voters there have a generally positive view of Hillary and 65 percent believe that she will ultimately be the Democrat nominee. Yet, they still opt for Sanders when given a choice.
The number one reason voters give for supporting Sanders is that 68 percent say he “supports issues important to” them. Less than one-in-three Hillary voters believe that is true with her. Some 20 percent of Sanders voters say they support him because he “stands firm” on his beliefs. Just 3 percent of Hillary’s voters say that about her.
The top reason Hillary voters support her is that she has the “best qualifications.” This is another way of saying that she is inevitable as the nominee. There is little enthusiasm for her actual campaign. Indeed, almost two-thirds of her supporters say they could change their mind and support another candidate.
It is very likely that Joe Biden is reacquainting himself with a road atlas of New Hampshire this morning.