On Eve of Primary, Sanders Keeps Lead in New Hampshire Poll

LOWELL, Mass. (CN) — Senator Bernie Sanders continues to lead in New Hampshire heading into Tuesday’s primary, according to a poll released on the eve of the contest.

“We are now looking at a race with a leader,” Joshua Dyck, director of the Center for Public Opinion, said in a statement Monday. “After the chaos surrounding the Iowa caucus, Bernie Sanders has emerged as the candidate to beat in a state he won by more than 20 points in 2016. But Mayor Pete Buttigieg is on the rise and received the biggest post-Iowa bump. With Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren trending downward, the question is, does Mayor Pete have enough time and can he woo enough of the soft support away from other candidates to catch Bernie?”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, embraces Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Friday during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News, Apple News, and WMUR-TV at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders attracted 25% of those polled, followed former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 17% and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren with 15%. Former Vice President Joe Biden dropped to 14%, followed by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar with 8%.

New Hampshire, which will hold the first primary in the nation on Tuesday, has just 24 delegates up for grabs. After the debacle in last week’s Iowa caucus, however, a win in the Granite is likely bring momentum to the victorious candidate.

The poll was conducted by the University of Massachusetts Lowell Center for Public Opinion over four days last week, which excluded any impact from the Feb. 7 Democratic debate.

Of those polled, 40% said that they would be willing to change their mind before Tuesday. Supporters of Sanders and U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii were the only ones whose supporters were less likely to be open to change. Only 13% of Sanders’ supporters said they could change their mind, as did 32% of Gabbard supporters.

“Normally, electorates grow in certainty as the election nears, but both the percentage of those who said they could change their mind and that there is no change since a week ago suggests a high degree of instability for an election that will take place in one day,” said Dyck. “New Hampshire primary voters appear to be living up to their reputation of waiting until the very end to decide.”

Almost everyone polled (94%) said they disapproved of President Donald Trump’s job performance. About one-third said their opinions about Trump had weakened a personal relationship.

Those polled said they expect either Sanders, Biden or Buttigieg to eventually win the Democratic nomination, at 30%, 23% and 12%, respectively.

About a third said that they thought Biden had the better chance at beating Trump and a third said that Sanders had the better chance. Another third said either candidate is likely to win.

One week ago, on the day of the Iowa Caucus, UMass Lowell released a poll showing a tight three-way race for first. Sanders was in the lead with 23% following by Biden at 22% and Warren with 19%. Buttigieg was in fourth place with 18%.

Iowa was split between Sanders and Buttigieg, causing both to gain support in New Hampshire in the wake of the caucus.

The New Hampshire poll included 440 voters who said they planned to participate in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Unenrolled voters in New Hampshire are able to participate in the Democratic primary, but the poll did not disclose the percentage of its pool that was independent.

The poll had an estimated 6.5 percent margin of error.

Nationally, Sanders narrowly slipped ahead of Biden, according to the latest Morning Consult poll, which was conducted on Feb. 5, the day after the Iowa Caucus.

That poll, which included 2,500 respondents and has a 2% margin of error, shows Sanders with 25%, followed by Biden with 24% and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at 15%. Buttigieg and Warren are the only other candidates with double digits, with 12% and 11%, respectively.

Bloomberg did not announce his candidacy until after the deadline to register for the New Hampshire, so the former New York mayor will not be on Tuesday’s ballot.

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