Sanders cuts into Clinton’s lead in national polls

posted at 3:01 pm on March 8, 2016 by John Sexton

Hillary Clinton leads in nearly all of the state polls tracked by Real Clear Politics. FiveThirtyEight says she is a lock to win primaries in big, upcoming states like Florida, Illinois and Ohio. In short, Clinton appears to be closing in on the Democratic nomination pretty handily. And yet, two new national polls show her continuing to lose ground to Bernie Sanders. First up, ABC News which has Clinton’s lead over Sanders down to just 7 points:


Looking at this poll it certainly doesn’t appear Sanders is fading out as Clinton becomes almost inevitable. On the contrary, this is the first national poll in which Clinton has dropped below 50 percent. A new NBC/WSJ poll shows Clinton in better shape but here again Sanders is up this month and Clinton’s lead is down to single digits for the first time:

NBC-WSJ poll

Looking back, we see that Hillary has lost a lot of ground to Sanders in the last two months in this poll as well. She had a 25 point lead in the same poll just 7 weeks ago:

NBC-WSJ poll Feb

I’m not suggesting these polls indicate that anyone other than Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee, but there must be a reason Sanders continues to rise despite the projections. According to ABC News, “74 percent of leaned Democrats say they’d be satisfied with Clinton as the nominee, and 72 percent would be satisfied with Sanders.” That suggests a party that is prepared to be equally happy either way. But the national polls, so far, don’t seem to show a party ready to settle. They show a party that appears less and less certain about the front-runner.

It’s worth noting that both of these polls were conducted March 3-6, meaning most of the respondents probably didn’t have the Super Saturday (or Sunday) results on their minds when they answered the survey. Of course Bernie Sanders did pretty well on Saturday, winning caucuses in Nebraska and Kansas (Hillary won the Louisiana primary), so maybe those results would have encouraged Sanders supporters even more.

Democrats aren’t facing the possibility of a bitter, brokered convention (like the GOP may be), but there is some reason to think a large portion of the party is not ready to settle on Hillary Clinton. Maybe that dynamic will change after a few convincing wins next week.

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