Hillary Clinton is cementing her place atop the polls, maintaining her lead and holding off Bernie Sanders at just the right time as the first primaries in 2016 approach.
The Democratic frontrunner held off a late summer surge from Bernie Sanders, and since then has been building her lead in the polls. The latest boost comes from a new CNN/ORC poll, which shows Clinton maintaining her lead in the wake of the last Democratic presidential debate.
Hot peppers and selfies: 48 hours on the campaign trail. https://t.co/8UzIG88ZJ8 pic.twitter.com/aKkJPASKKt
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) December 27, 2015
Bill Clinton set to campaign for Hillary Clinton just as the jostling with Donald Trump gets more pointed https://t.co/AiEZxJBN78
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 27, 2015
In the poll, Clinton remained at the 50 percent mark, with Sanders getting 34 percent support among voters. While that’s tighter than the last poll, which showed Clinton with 58 percent support to Sanders’ 30 percent.
But as CNN noted, the polls are hiding a bit of Clinton’s lead.
“But those overall results mask a shift back toward Clinton following the Democratic debate on Saturday night. In interviews conducted before the debate, Sanders ran closer to Clinton, with 37% support to Clinton’s 45%. Among those interviewed after the debate, Clinton’s lead grew to 60% vs. Sanders’ 27%.”
“The Sanders campaign focuses heavily on economic issues, and the new poll suggests he has boosted his standing on that issue. Yet Sanders continues to trail Clinton as the candidate better able to handle economic issues, 47% say they think Clinton is best able to handle it, 39% Sanders.”
Hillary Clinton has some strong favorability numbers as well, with 77 percent saying they look at her favorably. Sanders, who doesn’t have as much name recognition with voters, was at 46 percent favorability.
Despite the advantage in the polls, there could be some troubling signs for Hillary Clinton. For one, Bernie Sanders has a strong showing in polls for Iowa and New Hampshire, two important early states.
Sanders also has his eyes on a new group that could put him over the top. In an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Sanders made a strong pitch for Donald Trump’s supporters. He noted that many of these voters share the same concerns that he has raised, saying these working class people have been struggling as income disparities grow ever larger.
“Many of Trump’s supporters are working-class people and they’re angry,” Sanders said.
But as Sanders acknowledged the appeal Trump has with these voters, he also accused the Republican front runner of pandering to their fears rather than sincerely addressing the issues they face. He said Trump is more concerned with stirring up fear of Muslims and Mexican immigrants than addressing income disparity.
It may be a difficult gambit for Sanders to win these voters. While he may share some common themes, attacking Trump’s targeting of Muslims may not go over well, as polls show that more than 60 percent of Republican voters agreed with his proposal to ban non-U.S. Muslims from entering the United States.
Hillary Clinton could have some other difficulties beyond the polls. While she has maintained her lead over Bernie Sanders, looking forward to a hypothetical presidential matchup reveals more problems. Clinton is within the margin of error in a matchup against Trump, leading only 49 percent to 47 percent. She also trails Ted Cruz by two points and Marco Rubio by three points. Among independents it’s an even bigger gap, with Rubio and Cruz each leading Hillary Clinton by 12 points.
But there is still months before any of those hypothetical scenarios would come into play, and for now Hillary Clinton is focused on maintaining her lead in the polls and using her superior ground game when the primaries stars.
[Picture by Alex Wong/Getty Images]