Bernie Sanders tops Hillary Clinton in weird new poll

Always check the margin of error.


Andrew Couts


Posted on Aug 12, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 4:29 am CDT

Bernie Sanders is having a good week—at least, that’s how it looks. 

Hot off back-to-back rallies that drew tens of thousands of supporters, the Independent Vermont senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate eked past rival Hillary Clinton in the latest poll out of New Hampshire. 

Sanders led Clinton 44 percent t0 37 percent among likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, according to a recent poll conducted by Franklin Pierce University and the Boston Herald. It is the first time Sanders has draw more support than Clinton in that early primary state, meaning the poll is an outlier.

Vice President Joe Biden, who has not announced a run for president, drew 9 percent of respondents’ support. 

The poll, conducted by phone last week, included 442 respondents. It has a margin of error of 4.7 percent, putting Clinton and Sanders effectively in a dead heat, with maximum support for Clinton topping out at 41.7 percent, while Sanders bottoms out at 39.3 percent. 

This particular poll may say more about Clinton than it does about Sanders. According to the Herald, voters still “overwhelmingly” believe Clinton will be the nominee, but respondents were less enthusiastic about the former secretary of state, with just 35 percent saying they were “excited” by her candidacy. 

The numbers aren’t all bad for Clinton. Half said they could still support her if she won the nomination, and 80 percent had a “favorable” view of Clinton, though only 38 percent said they viewed her “very” favorably. 

The public’s potentially waning zeal for Clinton comes amid increased scrutiny of her private email use during her time as secretary of state. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating whether emails sent through Clinton’s private email server contained mishandled classified information. On Tuesday, the State Department reportedly found two emails on the server containing “Top Secret” information. 

Sanders has so far slipped through the clutches of scandal.

Clinton still enjoys a 3.2-point lead in New Hampshire, according to the Real Clear Politics poll averages. Nationwide, however, Clinton’s lead seems all but insurmountable, with an average 35.6 points ahead of Sanders, who enjoys an average 19.4 percent support from respondents.

OK, but what about those crowds? Sanders has collectively drawn more than 100,000 people to rallies over the past month, the Washington Post reports—an impressive number that so far tops any other 2016 candidate, Republican or Democrat. But those supporters are a small fraction of the number needed to win the Democratic nomination, let alone the Electoral College. So, it’s still far too early to tell whether the summer Sanders surge will translate into votes come November.

Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Aug 12, 2015, 10:36 am CDT