Hillary Clinton Polls: Clinton Cementing Lead Over Bernie Sanders, But May Have Lost Key Endorsement

Hillary Clinton is moving up in the polls, solidifying her lead over Bernie Sanders after the Vermont Senator made a run in the late summer and early fall, but the lack of a key endorsement could still hurt Clinton.

Al Gore, who served as vice president to Bill Clinton for eight years, refused to say he would back Hillary for the 2016 presidential nomination. When asked by People Magazine Gore gave a bit of a diplomatic answer, careful not to fall on either side.

"It's still too early, in my opinion, to endorse a candidate or pick a candidate," Gore told the magazine. "Everybody can look at how the presidential campaign is developing and get some pretty clear ideas about how they think it's going to turn out, but I still think it's premature," Gore said. "The election is still a full year away. I think I'll wait to wade into it."

The lack of Gore's endorsement could eventually hurt Hillary Clinton, especially if he were to endorse Bernie Sanders. While that seems unlikely given his history with the Clintons, it could be a factor that would push Sanders over the top.

Some believe there could be another reason for Gore's lack of an endorsement -- his own political aspirations. There have been rumors for years that Gore wants to run for president, but he has always denied them.

And Gore again denied plans to run for president, telling People magazine that he's out of politics for good.

"I have taken no steps whatsoever in the direction of a candidacy, and my answer has been the same for 10 years now – or more – and you probably heard my answer before: I'm a recovering politician and the longer I go without a relapse, the less likely one becomes."

But even without Gore's endorsement, Hillary Clinton is still climbing in the polls and putting Bernie Sanders further in her rear view mirror. A recent CNN/ORC Poll found that Hillary's support has reached 58 percent, with Sanders getting just 30 percent of voters.

The poll gave Hillary Clinton an advantage on a number of key issues, with 74 percent saying the trust the former Secretary of State on foreign policy and 59 percent saying they trust her to take on ISIS. And perhaps most importantly, 64 percent said they believe she is best able to handle the responsibilities of president.

Clinton has even taken on Bernie Sanders in the area that is likely his biggest strength -- the middle class. About 47 percent said Clinton is better and knowing how to help the middle class, while 44 percent picked Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton could still have some ground to make up. A new poll from Quinnipiac (via ABC News) found that Bernie Sanders was the most electable candidate from either party. The poll found that Sanders would beat Donald Trump by eight points (Clinton won by only six), while he would defeat Ben Carson by six points and Ted Cruz by 10 points.

Writer Brent Budowsky of the Observer News noted that the poll showed Sanders still has some room to move in on Hillary Clinton, with 11 percent of voters saying they don't know enough about him yet to make a decision.

Budowsky said Sanders could also ride a populist wave to the Democratic nomination.

"First, Mr. Sanders has very high ratings for integrity, trust and authenticity in an election year where large numbers of voters feel strong distrust for major political figures and media institutions. Second, Mr. Sanders embodies a pure play candidate for a progressive populist agenda that has powerful and, I would argue, majority support from American voters."
But if Hillary Clinton continues to climb in the polls, all those qualities could be moot. If Clinton can just maintain her numbers, Sanders will need something drastic to change things when voters finally start going to the polls in early 2016.

[Picture by Alex Wong/Getty Images]