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Poll: Clinton builds on lead over Sanders nationally

After Hillary Clinton’s decisive win in New York last week—ending her string of losses—she now has a 10-point lead over Bernie Sanders nationally.

After Hillary Clinton’s decisive win in New York last week—ending her string of losses—she now has a 10-point lead over Bernie Sanders nationally. Though the margin between the candidates increased only slightly from 9 points last week, the latest numbers show a slow but steady national climb by Clinton over the past three weeks, according to the latest from the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll.

The Democratic candidates now face off in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic primaries Tuesday in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll was conducted online from April 18 to April 24 of 10,707 adults aged 18 and over.

Both Democratic candidates held back-to-back MSNBC town halls Monday night in Philadelphia—hoping to appeal to voters in Pennsylvania on the eve of the primaries. All of Tuesday’s primaries are closed with the exception of Rhode Island—which utilizes a mixed format in which unaffiliated voters can vote in either party’s primary.

Nationally, Clinton continues to do well among those who say they belong to the Democratic Party. Sanders has done particularly well among Independents. After Sanders’ defeat in New York, his campaign emphasized that a state’s open or closed primary format may have an effect on his performance.

In this week’s poll, Clinton captures 56 percent support among registered voters who say they identify as Democrats. Sanders has 38 percent support of Democrats. This margin flips in Sanders’ favor, however, among Independents who lean toward the Democratic Party. This group supports Sanders over Clinton, 55 percent to 38 percent.  

NBC News exit poll results have shown that a sizable number of Democratic voters in the states headed to the polls Tuesday have identified as “moderate” in past Democratic primary contests. Nearly four in 10 Democratic primary voters in Maryland, Connecticut and Pennsylvania identified as moderate in 2008. It is important to note, however, that there has been an increase in the number of Democratic primary voters who identify as “liberal” or “very liberal” this year compared to 2008.

Results from our national tracking poll show that Clinton has consistently maintained a very strong lead among moderate Democrats and Democratic-leaners. If a roughly equal number of moderates turn out in Tuesday’s primaries as did in 2008, Clinton may have an advantage. Nationally, Sanders closes the gap as Democrats move to the left in the ideological spectrum.

Given that Tuesday’s primary races in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic will be closed and most likely composed of Democrats, this could bode well for Clinton. With just over a month left to go in the 2016 primary cycle, Tuesday will be important in setting the tone for the remaining races. 

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll was conducted online April 18 through April 24, 2016 among a national sample of 10,707 adults aged 18 and over, including 9,405 who say they are registered to vote. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Results have an error estimate of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points. A full description of our methodology and the poll can be found here.