A new poll from Monmouth University finds Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders consolidating his lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. More importantly, though, Sanders has a commanding 23 point lead among Independents and new voters, both of whom can take part in the state’s first primary.
New Hampshire’s open primary system, and same day registration, may overwhelm the Clinton campaign.
Among likely primary voters, Sanders enjoys a solid 7-point lead over Clinton, 43-36 percent. Vice President Joe Biden trails with 13 percennt. With Biden out of the race, his supporters split evenly, with Sanders maintaining his 7 point lead over Clinton, 48-41 percent.
Sanders beats Clinton by 10 points among male voters. Surprisingly, he also edges Clinton among female Democrat voters, winning the group thought to be Hillary’s base by 4 points, 42-38 percent.
Hillary Clinton only leads Sanders in two voter demographics. She beats Sanders among the oldest voters and edges him with registered Democrats. Unfortunately for Clinton, however, New Hampshire allows any voter to participate in a party’s primary and allows voters to register and vote on Election Day. This gives a heavy advantage to campaigns that can attract new, younger or independent voters into the primary.
“Sanders has certainly cut into Clinton’s core constituencies, but his ultimate success may ride on how many new voters he can get to the polls,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth poll said in a statement.
Sanders has a strong lead among younger voters. He also has an overwhelming advantage over Clinton among Independents and new voters, winning them by a 49-26 percent margin.
Hillary’s current supporters also aren’t completely committed to her, according to the poll. Over half of her supporters say they would be “okay” with her not winning the nomination. By contrast, almost half of Sanders supporters would be “upset” if he didn’t win the nomination.
By tapping this enthusiasm gap, expanding the electorate and energizing new voters to take advantage of New Hampshire’s easy voting rules, Sanders could build a sizable coalition to win the state.
The most interesting finding in the poll, perhaps, is that Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem to be suffering from a revolt against the national party organization that is dominating the Republican contest. Two-thirds of state Democrats are happy with the party’s leadership in Congress. More than 60 percent want a candidate who has intimate knowledge of government and understands how it works.
Democrats in New Hampshire want a political insider, in other words. They just don’t want Hillary Clinton.