Two new polls show presidential candidate Hillary Clinton might not have the cakewalk to the Democratic nomination that political observers almost universally expect.
A Suffolk University poll of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire finds the former secretary of state Clinton garnering 41% of the vote. Fellow Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is surprisingly close in second place, grabbing 31%.
“Don’t underestimate the power of the progressive nerve network,” David Paleologos, the director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, said in a statement. “It is alive, far reaching, and it is translating into political muscle in the New Hampshire Democratic primary.”
The Suffolk poll is the second of the Granite State in a matter of days that displays Clinton in vulnerable position as a front-runner. In a Morning Consult poll released last weekend, Clinton led Sanders by just 12 points.
Since Sanders jumped into the presidential race in late April, his candidacy has gained momentum through grassroots support from the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party. In the Suffolk poll, self-identified liberal Democratic voters split 39-39 between Clinton and Sanders. Self-identified moderate Democrats chose Clinton by a 20-point margin.
There’s also a significant gender gap. Democratic women swung 47-28 for Clinton, but she actually trailed Sanders by 3 points among Democratic men.
Clinton’s advisers have continually said they expect a competitive primary process. But Sanders became the surprising favored alternative: In a May poll from Bloomberg/St. Anselm College, Sanders trailed Clinton by 44 points among Democrats.
The poll also shows that New Hampshire Democrats harbor some concerns about Clinton as a general-election candidate. Pluralities of Democratic voters say three recurring topics in the news — her handling of the terror attack on the US mission in Benghazi, her usage of a private email server as secretary of state, and the Clinton Foundation’s acceptance of donations from foreign governments — will ultimately hurt her in the general election.
For all of the potential signs of trouble in New Hampshire, though, Clinton does not appear to be facing similar tightening in other primary states. The Morning Consult poll gives her 40-plus-point leads in both Iowa and South Carolina.
Suffolk’s poll was conducted from June 11-15 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4%.