Bernie Sanders is cruising in polls from New Hampshire, leading Hillary Clinton in something close to a home field for the Vermont Senator.
From there on is where it gets considerably more difficult.
Sanders lost his chance to take the first contest of the 2016 Democratic primary, losing to Hillary Clinton by a razor-edge margin in Iowa (some political pundits are labeling it as a tie). Though Sanders was able to erase what was once a 50-point deficit when the first polls were taken early in the campaign season last year, his momentum was not enough to overcome Clinton’s robust ground game in Iowa.
— necn (@NECN) February 3, 2016
— Latinos for Bernie (@Latinos4Bernie) February 3, 2016
Polls from New Hampshire show that Bernie Sanders is unlikely to suffer the same fate when voters take to the polls next week. A University of Massachusetts-Lowell/7 News survey released Wednesday shows that 63 percent of New Hampshire voters back Bernie Sanders, with 30 percent supporting Clinton.
There didn’t seem to be much wiggle room for that to change either, noted the Hill:
“About 81 percent would “definitely” vote for Sanders, versus 75 percent who say the same about Clinton.
“Just 19 percent ‘could change their mind’ about the Vermont lawmaker, while 25 percent admitted that may rethink the former secretary of State.”
But Bernie Sanders has long been expected to roll in New Hampshire, a state whose demographics match up perfectly with his voter base. Winning in Iowa would have been much more important and could have given Sanders the momentum of two consecutive victories heading to a series of states that favor Clinton.
Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight notes that a win in New Hampshire will not necessarily boost Sanders forward, especially if Clinton comes out with a better-than-expected outcome. With Sanders leading by 30 points, that may not be hard to do.
“Iowa and New Hampshire also lack nonwhite voters, who form a huge part of the Democratic base. Can Sanders win over some of these voters? Clinton has held a lead among nonwhites of nearly 40 percentage points in national polls. In Nevada, which votes after the New Hampshire primary, the electorate for the Democratic caucuses in 2008 was 15 percent Hispanic and 15 percent black. After Nevada comes South Carolina, where a majority of Democratic voters will be black. Our polls-only forecast in South Carolina gives Clinton a 94 percent chance to win, and our polls-plus forecast gives her a 96 percent chance to win.”
Enten concluded that Hillary Clinton will remain the frontrunner as long as she can maintain her lead among non-white voters. Sanders would need to cut into this considerably to be competitive in the more moderate states to come.
There is already some sign that could be happening in South Carolina. A CBS News/YouGov poll released last week showed that Sanders had cut into Clinton’s lead among black voters. In the same poll from November, Clinton led black voters by a margin of 82 percent to 14 percent. In the latest poll Sanders had tightened the margin, losing 76 percent to 22 percent.
“The point is not to argue that Sanders will win South Carolina, but that there is a surge happening in his direction right now,” the Daily Kos noted. “He does seem to be winning over some African American voters. We will have to wait for more polls to see if this continues.”
It will take more for Bernie Sanders to overtake Hillary Clinton in polls. With a series of Clinton-friendly states coming up, he will need to prove that his campaign is strong enough to get out the vote, a tall task for Sanders. Iowa voting showed that his biggest strength is with younger voters, the ones traditionally the least likely to show up to actually vote.
[Image via Instagram/Bernie Sanders]