Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has caught up to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a new national poll and finds himself in a statistical dead heat with his rival, showing it's more than just early nominating states that are “feeling the Bern.” The news comes the morning after a sometimes contentious debate Thursday night between the two remaining Democratic presidential hopefuls in New Hampshire that had analysts divided on who came out ahead.
Clinton still has a 2 percent lead over Sanders in the Quinnipiac University poll, released Friday, but that is well within the 4.5 percent margin of error the pollsters allowed. That performance comes just after Sanders barely lost to Clinton in the Iowa caucus Monday and just days before the second nominating contest in New Hampshire Feb. 9, where he is leading Clinton by more than 20 percent in averages of polls there.
“Democrats nationwide are feeling the Bern as Sen. Bernie Sanders closes a 31-point gap to tie Secretary Hillary Clinton," Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll, said in a statement released with the polling data.
Sanders also enjoys the highest favorability of any leading candidate in the 2016 field and beats or ties the top three Republicans currently jostling for their party’s nomination. The poll showed a Sanders advantage over businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in a hypothetical general election. He is tied with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Unlike Sanders’ 44-35 percent favorability, Clinton has one of the worst favorability ratings in the field with 39 percent of the polling group favoring her versus a whopping 56 percent who do not. She performs worse than her Democratic socialist opponent againt Republicans, as well, beating Trump while generating a tie with Cruz and losing to Rubio.
Of course, the results could be a fluke as polls are notoriously inaccurate, but it does appear to show an increasingly contentious Democratic primary battle that could easily last for quite a long time. In other metrics for determining a candidate’s viability, like institutional support from members of Congress and state governors, Clinton still dominates Sanders. But, in the so-called money primary, Sanders has proven to be a formidable foe and even outraised Clinton $20 million to $25 million in the month of January.
Friday’s Quinnipiac poll is a pretty big swing from other national polls released recently. In the most recent five polls, Clinton was ahead of Sanders by double digits — the lowest lead she had was by 12 points and the highest was 21 points.
The Quinnipiac poll, conducted between Feb. 2 and Feb. 4, surveyed 1,125 registered voters via land line and cell phone. The poll included 507 Republicans and 484 Democrats. The poll had a margin of error of 2.9 percent between all candidates, 4.4 percent between Republicans and 4.5 percent among Democrats.