A Monmouth University poll released Tuesday shows Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gaining against Hillary Clinton in national poll numbers, with Clinton taking a 7% hit and Sanders rising by 11%. As of this week, Clinton has 52% of registered Democrats and likely Democratic voters on her side, while Sanders has 37%.
Though Clinton’s loss marks the first time she has fallen below a twenty-point lead, the Monmouth report showed that Clinton continues to perform well among minority voters in the states that will follow the New Hampshire and Iowa primaries.
Clinton’s major losses were in her support from women (54% against Sanders’ 35%, a ten-point loss) and those under 50 (39% – 52%, down thirteen points). Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said that while those numbers may point to a more hard-fought race, Clinton’s strong showing with black and latino voters in states like South Carolina and Nevada may counteract Sanders’ gains among independents in New Hampshire and Iowa.
“With a shrinking margin, a strong showing by Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire could cut Clinton’s national lead even more. However, he would still have to overcome Clinton’s demographic advantage in the ensuing contests,” said Murray.
“Sanders is aided by the fact that most Super Tuesday contests are open to independent voters – a group where he performs well. On the other hand, about two-thirds of the pledged delegates awarded on March 1 will be from states where black and Latino voters comprise anywhere from one-third to a majority of the electorate.
“It looks like the demographic dynamic that hurt Clinton in 2008 may be what helps her in 2016.”
The poll also showed that respondents favored Clinton as the candidate most likely to beat out Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, with Clinton leading over Sanders 44% – 16%. 35% said they would be equally likely to beat Trump.
Clinton also had a slight edge over Sanders on gun control and health care – 39% favored Clinton on guns to Sanders’ 21%, while 36% favored Clinton on healthcare against 30% for Sanders. The results were reported before Sanders unveiled his full healthcare plan Sunday.
The poll was conducted by phone, with the figures drawn from a 352-person sample of registered Democratic or left-leaning voters. It has a margin of error of +5.2 percent. See the full report on the Monmouth University website.