Bernie Sanders Is Giving Hillary Clinton A Contest In New Hampshire, But Nowhere Else

Another poll shows Bernie Sanders doing will in New Hampshire, but there's no evidence he's catching on anywhere else in the country.

Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders

A new poll out of New Hampshire seems to confirm that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is giving Hillary Clinton a real fight in the Granite State, but there’s little sign that he’s having much impact outside of there:

A poll released Tuesday was the second in recent weeks to show Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leading former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire.

The Democratic-leaning Public Polling Polling found Sanders receiving 42 percent support among Democrats in the state while Clinton received 35 percent.

None of the other four declared Democratic candidates reached double digits.

It was the second poll of New Hampshire to show Sanders with the momentum. An Aug. 12 poll from Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald also showed the self-described socialist senator leading Clinton by 7 points.

In the latest survey, Sanders was viewed by 78 percent of voters as favorable and 12 percent unfavorable.

You can read about the PPP poll of New Hampshire, which also shows Donald Trump up big on the Republican side, but as noted it is consistent with previous polling that we’ve seen out of the state. Sanders began surging in the polls in New Hampshire not very long after he entered the race, but even then it seemed clear that it was prudent not to jump to too many conclusions based on that fact. The political media being what it is, of course, that didn’t happen. So, when a later poll showing Sanders within only a few points of Clinton in the state was released was followed by another that showed him in the lead, many observers began wondering what this meant for Clinton’s campaign as a whole. This is likely to become even more of a topic of conversation now that the RealClearPolitics average shows Sanders leading Clinton by 3.4 points. All of this is happening at the same time that Clinton’s favorability numbers were dropping and the email scandal was continuing to bubble thanks in no small part to Clinton’s own hamfisted response to the scandal led, of course, to all the inevitable speculation about a potential Biden candidacy notwithstanding the Vice-President’s own obvious weaknesses.

When you look beyond New Hampshire, though, there still doesn’t seem to be any indication that Sanders is anything other than a regional threat to Clinton whose standing in Granite State is enhanced by his long political history in neighboring Vermont. In Iowa, for example, Clinton continues to hold an impressive lead and a new poll shows little sign that Sanders is threatening her there:

Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a strong lead against her Democratic rivals in Iowa despite lingering concerns about her honesty, according to a new poll.

A survey from Suffolk University found that Mrs. Clinton has the support of 54 percent of likely Iowa caucus participants, with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in second place at 20 percent. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has not said if he is running, comes in third place with 11 percent.

The poll questioned 500 likely Democratic caucusgoers, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It reveals strong loyalty to Mrs. Clinton among Democrats amid concerns about the controversy surrounding her use of a private email server as secretary of state. While most people said that the email problem did not bother them personally, 52 percent said they thought it would damage Mrs. Clinton in a general election.

“There is huge loyalty to her and they are sticking with her,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

With this poll, Clinton continues to maintain a seemingly prohibitive lead in Iowa, which is noteworthy largely because of the fact that this was the state where President Obama beat her back in 2008. Yesterday, in fact, Clinton received the endorsement of former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and has already been endorsed by former Senator Tom Harkin. The fact that Sanders has not had nearly the impact in the Hawkeye State that he has in New Hampshire, despite the fact that Iowa’s Democratic electorate is arguably one that would be more suited to his message, suggests that what we’re seeing in New Hampshire has a lot to do with his regional connections to the state. Clinton is also maintain strong leads in South Carolina and Florida, as well as in the national polling, although it’s worth noting that she has fallen below 50% in those national polls at least for the moment. For the most part, though, while Sanders has drawn large crowds in other parts of the country, so far he only seems to be having an impact in New Hampshire.

None of this precludes the possibility that Sanders could start having an impact elsewhere, of course, but it seems unlikely, As I’ve said before, it seems highly unlikely that Democrats are going to nominate a 73 year old socialist from Vermont as their Presidential candidate. This isn’t 1972, and they’re not going to nominate an elderly version of George McGovern. Additionally, it seems quite apparent that Sanders simply doesn’t have the resources for a national campaign against someone like Clinton. His fundraising numbers, while impressive and indeed better than many of the Republican candidates have done, are nowhere near what Clinton has been able to raise or will be able to raise. Unless that starts changing, and unless we see real signs that Sanders is having the same impact outside New Hampshire that he has had in the Granite then, it’s far too early to be calling him a serious threat to Clinton. Indeed, if the Democratic race ever gets to the point where there is a serious threat to Clinton’s candidacy, that’s the point when you’ll see credible candidates like Joe Biden get in the race. They’d be the ones to benefit from a collapse on Clinton’s part, not Bernie Sanders.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    New Hampshire should be a homecourt advantage for Sanders, or at least give him a “Gene McCarthy v. LBJ” type of loss.

  2. JohnMcC says:

    Limited though his impact might be in delegates Sen Sanders has stamped an uncompromising liberal face on the Dem side of the election. That’s not a small thing after this decades-long right wing revolt against what seems to most Americans to be simple decency and responsibility.

    I think my friend the-Ameda is perceptive in comparing him to Sen Gene McCarthy who reminded us of the moral dimensions of the VietNam War. If Hillary can be a Bobby Kennedy to Sander’s Gene McCarthy it will have been a good fight.

  3. just me says:

    He seems to be pretty popular with millennials (but I also live in nh so it may be a nh thing).

    I have one child who is liberal and he hates Hillary but really likes Sanders. I notice most of the kids his age and older feel the same. I think Sanders outside my is probably hurt by name recognition and the fact that he may struggle in the south. I saw a poll where he did very poorly with African American voters-this may change with more time and more name recognition but his status as an old white guy from VT May be a high hurdle for him to clear-especially since Hillary has name recognition.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    @just me:

    I think it largely is a millenial thing. I’m 30, so on the older side of millenials, and at least on social media Bernie is popular with progressive millenials politically, and a lot of conservative millenials like his economic populism. Past age 35 or so, my progressive friends seem to be purely on team Hillary.

    It’s an interesting indicator of what Millenial politics will look like as they start to replace Gen X-ers and Boomers as political thought leaders.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    Speaking of someone who hasn’t yet noticed he’s turned into an ex-parrot

    There’s knowing when to hold them and when to fold ’em, and Perry seems ridiculously clueless in this matter.

    (Someone–please post a link to the Black Knight sequence out of you-know-where.)

  6. Anonne says:

    Sanders’ impact is minimal because the media hasn’t really been covering him. Until last week, he’d drawn the biggest crowds out of all contenders, but barely a peep in the media about the substance on which he speaks. Donald Trump said something bombastic and then it became all Trump all the time. Sanders excites some people because of his policies and his unvarnished approach. Trump is exciting because he is speaking for the Republican Id and the media loves a clown show. Except that clown is a bigger threat than people think.

  7. Paul Hooson says:

    I think that Sanders might be able to win in Oregon as well if his campaign isn’t out of gas by the May primary. He might run strong in Wisconsin as well, but I don’t see him winning anywhere but NH and OR at this point…It’s a train ride to nowhere…

  8. Todd says:

    The fact that most Democrats still strongly support Hillary Clinton only confirms in my mind the validity of my reasons for staying an Independent rather than a Democrat.

  9. Tillman says:

    “There is huge loyalty to her and they are sticking with her,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

    Sorry, I love this sort of stuff. You mean a distant descendant or family member of Constantine Palaiologos, the last Byzantine emperor before Mehmet II deposed him, is telling us to stick with Hillary?

    That’s proof-positive we’re living in someone’s bad satire.

  10. Crusty Dem says:

    Doug, I’d recommend you remove your knowledge of democratic party politics from your mind for a moment (or longer) and just look at this chart before another “Bernie can’t compete with Hillary” post:

    If Hillary were a stock, would you buy? Would you sell Bernie? Past results don’t guarantee future trends, but if they do this contest will be over before Iowa, and Hillary will be going back to the Senate…

  11. grumpy realist says:

    Well, I’m planning on voting for Bernie, if I can figure out how to register to vote in the primaries here in Illinois….

  12. grumpy realist says:

    @grumpy realist: P.S. Looks like I just have to show up at the polling station in March 2016.

    Go Bernie!

  13. Tyrell says:

    The party leaders are worried that Sanders will not get anywhere in other areas of the country with some great of his proposals. And they know the Democratic nominee will have to carry some southern states.