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Poll suggests Clinton helped herself with debate performance

A new poll suggests the Democratic front-runner may have shored up her standing with voters after a well-received debate performance Tuesday.

A new poll suggests Hillary Clinton may have shored up her standing with Democratic voters after a well-received debate performance Tuesday.

Clinton, the former Secretary of State, led Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by 37% to 35% in a Suffolk University survey of New Hampshire primary voters conducted Wednesday and Thursday. Twelve percent of respondents were undecided, and 11 percent said they'd back Vice President Joe Biden if he runs.

In addition, 54% of respondents said Clinton won the debate, while 24% said Sanders did.

Last month, most polls showed Sanders leading—one NBC survey found him ahead by 9 points.

RELATED: Who won the Democratic debate?

The question of who performed better in the debate has been a subject of heated online argument. Several instant online polls, which don't claim to be representative samples of the electorate, gave Sanders the win, even as pundits almost universally called it for Clinton. In recent days, more reliable surveys have shown Clinton as the winner.

A strong performance in New Hampshire, the second contest in the nominating process and the first primary, is crucial for Sanders's hopes. It's filled with the kind of plugged-in progressives who make up his base. It's overwhelmingly white, so Clinton's strength with black voters is much less of a factor. And it borders Vermont, the state Sanders has represented in the House and Senate for decades.

The Suffolk poll wasn't all good news for Clinton. Only 22% rated her as the most trustworthy of the Democratic candidates. And 36% said they were bothered by concerns about her use of a private email server—a high number for a poll that sampled Democrats. That's even after Sanders appeared to neutralize the topic when he described it in the debate as a distraction from the important issues, telling Clinton people are "sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails."

And the poll offered more evidence that the window may be closing for Biden to enter the race. Fifty percent said the veep shouldn't get in, compared to 36% who said he should.