Poll: Sanders Up 16 in New Hampshire

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to reporters after speaking to federal contract workers at a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, to push for a raise to the minimum wage to $15 an hour. (
AP/Andrew Harnik

A new CNN/WMUR poll of New Hampshire Democrats finds Vermont socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders opening his biggest lead against presumptive frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Sanders has the backing of 46 percent of the state’s Democrat voters, while Clinton has just 30 percent. Vice President Joe Biden has the backing of 14 percent of Democrats in the Granite State.

Since June, when CNN/WMUR last polled the first primary state, Sanders position against Clinton has improved by 24 points. At the beginning of the Summer, Clinton held a modest 8 point lead over Sanders. Her position in the state has collapsed, despite spending millions in TV advertising there over the summer.

Sanders has the highest approval rating of any Democrat in New Hampshire, with 78 percent of Democrats giving him positive reviews. Just 11 percent of state Democrats have an unfavorable view of the socialist Senator.

Clinton rates far lower, with just 67 percent of state Democrats having a favorable impression of her. Almost one-quarter of Democrats, 23 percent, have an unfavorable opinion of her. Her personal ratings have fallen 11 points since early summer.

One third of Democrats rate Clinton as the “least honest.” The overwhelming majority of Democrats decline to answer that question. It has to worry the Clinton camp that one-out-of-three Democrats answer affirmatively that she is the least honest.

In addition to Democrats questioning her honesty, only 15 percent say that she is the most likable candidate. Most voters split between Biden or Sanders on that question, each receiving around 39 percent of Democrats who think they are the most likable.

Still, a slim majority of Democrats in the state, 51 percent, believe she is the Democrat candidate with the best chance of winning in November. In spite of this, a large number of even those Democrats chose to support a different candidate.

Historically, New Hampshire has been something of a firewall for the Clintons. In 1992, Bill Clinton’s strong showing in the primary there rescued his faltering campaign for the White House. In 2008, Hillary’s come from behind victory in the state momentarily stemmed the tide sweeping towards Barack Obama.

This poll, however, suggests the Clinton luck in the state may have worn out. Clinton, whose advertising and campaign organization has blanketed the state may still be the candidates Democrats there has the best chance to win in November. IT doesn’t seem, though, that they want to be part of it.