Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders Tied in National Poll

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (R) and Bernie Sanders participate in the MSNBC Democratic Candidates Debate at the University of New Hampshire in Durham on February 4, 2016.
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

A new national poll from Quinnipiac University finds socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders surging into a tie against Hillary Clinton. Sanders has closed a 31-point gap from Quinnipiac’s last national poll at the end of December.

“Democrats nationwide are feeling the Bern as Sen. Bernie Sanders closes a 31-point gap to tie Secretary Hillary Clinton,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, said in a release.

Clinton leads Sanders by 2 points, 44-42, within the poll’s margin of error. In late December, Clinton had led Sanders by a 61-30 point margin. Perhaps more importantly, Sanders now runs better against potential GOP challengers than Clinton.

Clinton is +5 against Trump, while Sanders beats him by 10 points. Ted Cruz and Clinton are tied, while Sanders edges Cruz 46-42. Sanders is tied against Marco Rubio, while Clinton trails Rubio by 8 points.

Clinton supporters have consoled themselves that, Iowa and New Hampshire notwithstanding, Hillary was better positioned nationally against Sanders for the nomination. It was also widely assumed that Clinton would fare better against potential GOP rivals, a fact that would help her greatly has Democrats looked for the strongest candidate in November.

That assumption is turning on its head now, however.

Sanders, at +9,  has the best favorable ratings of all the candidates, with 44 percent of voters have a positive opinion and 35 percent negative. Hillary Clinton’s favorable ratings, however, are -17 points. Only 39 percent of voters have a favorable impression on Hillary, while 56 percent have an unfavorable view. Only Donald Trump has a worse favorable rating.

Like 2008, Hillary Clinton is finding that frontrunners are inevitable, up until the point that they aren’t. In the days following her loss in the Iowa caucuses to Barack Obama, Clinton continued to lead national polls by 12-15 points.

Clinton’s national lead is falling farther, faster than it did in 2008. We all know how that story ended.