Reversing the trend of the late summer, Hillary Clinton seems to have pulled narrowly ahead of Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire as voters have returned to her camp in the key state where Sanders had been leading for months, according to a new Monmouth University poll.
Clinton now edges Sanders 48% to 45% in the first-in-the-nation primary state, benefiting from a smaller field and increased support from women and others.
Sanders led Clinton consistently from the beginning of August through the beginning of October, but more recent polls has painted a mixed picture and suggested a virtually tied race after Clinton’s strong performance in the first Democratic presidential debate and after Vice President Joe Biden decided against a presidential run.
In September’s Monmouth poll, Sanders led Clinton 43% to 36% when Biden and lesser candidates Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb were included. And he led by an even larger margin of 49% to 41% when those three candidates were removed, suggesting the dynamic of the two-way race itself has changed.
Sanders’ support among key voting blocs – including younger voters, registered independents and new voters, and men – seems to have remained largely flat. The change seems to have come from registered Democrats, older voters and women rallying to Clinton.
“The Clinton team has recently taken to charging Sanders with sexism over some of his remarks. This may be one reason why she has been able to win back women voters in her base,” said Patrick Murray, who directs the Polling Institute at Monmouth University.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, meanwhile, remains largely stable at 3% in New Hampshire.
Clinton has been leading consistently in Iowa, which, along with New Hampshire, holds one of the two first nominating contests. And a new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll shows Clinton has increased her lead over Sanders nationwide.