Sanders Leads Democratic Pack in First Primary State

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talks to reporters just after the start of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Thursday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CN) – A new poll released Friday shows Senator Bernie Sanders has held the lead over his Democratic rivals in New Hampshire, home of the first-in-the-nation primary.

In a survey of 657 Democratic and Independent voters in the Granite State between Jan. 13 and 16, researchers with 7 News and Emerson College Polling found that 23% of respondents chose Sanders as their top candidate, followed by former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 18%. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts were tied at 14%.

Fewer than 100 individual choices separated the top four candidates in the New Hampshire survey, with 33 voters separating Sanders and Buttigieg and only three respondents separating Warren and Biden.

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was backed by 10% of voters in the survey. Emerson College Polling Director Spencer Kimball noted that Klobuchar “jumped eight points and is a competitor in New Hampshire” since last month.

A slim majority, about 53%, said they might change their minds and support another candidate, giving the candidates some room to persuade voters before the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11. By contrast, 47% said they have made up their minds.

Sanders, the junior senator from Vermont, has maintained his slight advantage in New Hampshire, which is the first state in the country to hold a presidential primary after the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

A 48% plurality of respondents in the latest survey said they voted for Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while 30% said they voted for Clinton.

Along with New Hampshire, voters in Sanders’ home state of Vermont overwhelmingly chose him over Clinton in the primary race four years ago.

Biden, however, has the advantage of being the presumptive nominee for the Democratic nomination. Despite ranking third in the New Hampshire survey, about 44% said he was likely to be the nominee, compared to 20% for Sanders. Ten percent said Buttigieg would get the nomination and 9% said it would go to Warren.

Between Sanders and Biden, respondents favored Sanders on health care at 35% and the economy at 23%, with Biden at about 17% and 16%, respectively. However, New Hampshire voters favored Biden on foreign policy at 36% to Sanders’ 23%.

Buttigieg polled higher than Biden on health care at 19% and tied him on the economy at 17%, but he trailed behind Biden on foreign policy – just 16% of voters favored him on that issue.

Respondents were split on how they viewed the Democratic National Committee’s handling of the primary debates so far, though a 38% plurality said that the DNC has been fair. Thirty-two percent said it has been unfair, and 30% were unsure.

The demographic makeup of the respondents was primarily white (89%), female (55%), between 50 and 64 years old (32%) and college educated (34%).

The data indicated that health care and the environment were respondents’ top priorities, at 25% and 21%, respectively.

Those surveyed were nearly evenly split on whether they wanted a candidate who shared their views or would be the best person to beat President Donald Trump – 51% versus 49%.

The poll has a margin of error of 3.8%.

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