New poll: Sanders six points behind Clinton nationally

posted at 6:01 pm on March 29, 2016 by Taylor Millard

The Democratic presidential race seems more low key than the Republican one, but it’s just as competitive. A new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll shows Bernie Sanders is getting even closer to being tied with Hillary Clinton.

National support for Clinton now stands at 49 percent down from 53 percent last week. Sanders support is at 43 percent up slightly from 41 percent last week. These results are according to the latest data from the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll conducted online from March 21 through March 27 among a national sample of 6,521 adults, including 5,741 who say they are registered to vote.

The poll also found more white men and women appear to be favoring Sanders, and Clinton’s appeal with minorities is starting to slide too. Clinton still has a majority of African American support (64%) but even that is going down from the 68% it was last week. Couple that with Sanders’ sweep of Alaska, Washington, and Hawaii and it’s apparently got Clinton’s campaign worried the New York primary may be closer than it seems. Via Politico:

Now, in advance of the New York’s April 19 presidential primary, operatives for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are closely studying [2014 gubernatorial candidate Zephyr] Teachout’s longshot campaign. “They’re very worried about a Zephyr Teachout situation,” said one Clinton ally close to the campaign. “The left is very mobilized. In New York [for Clinton] it’s not just about winning. They have to win 65 to 35.”

Sanders’ plan is to target the congressional districts where Teachout won – including some Upstate and across New York’s Southern Tier — thanks in large part to activists opposed to fracking, an oil and natural gas extraction technique that involves injecting chemicals deep below the surface. Clinton, meanwhile, is looking at the 2014 gubernatorial primary map as a roadmap for how to maximize her delegate haul in a state where they are largely allocated proportionally by congressional district.

Polls show Clinton is probably going to win New York, but the question is by how much. The last poll has her at 71% and it wouldn’t be surprising to see her lead stay that high. But Sanders seems pretty sure he’ll be able to cut into her lead, and start a fight over superdelegates. Via Los Angeles Times:

“I think the momentum is with us,” Sanders said. “A lot of these superdelegates may rethink their position with Hillary Clinton. A lot have not yet declared. And then you have got superdelegates who are in states where we win by 40 or 50 points. I think their own constituents are going to say to them, ‘Hey, why don’t you support the people of our state, vote for Sanders?’”

Still, the plan is not exactly alarming the Clinton campaign, which revealed on Monday that it expects to have the nomination locked up by the end of next month.

“We are going to get to the point where, at the end of April, there just is not enough real estate for him to overtake the commanding lead that we’ve built up,” Clinton pollster Joel Benenson said on a call with reporters.

The thing that’s interesting is Clinton’s lead may not be commanding enough. She’s got a big lead in the superdelegate category, but the pledged delegate category lead is by less than 300. Democratic primaries are all proportional, so Sanders can keep cutting into Clinton’s lead by having victories like he did last weekend. If Sanders keeps tying, or barely losing, Clinton will keep her 300ish lead and be able to survive until the convention. The fact is Clinton isn’t likeable at all, while Sanders has that odd, lovable grump feel to him (even if he wants to tax everything into oblivion and give out “free” everything).

But Sanders’ rise in the Democratic primary shows how frustrated voters are with Clinton and “the system” (even though Sanders has been in Washington longer than Clinton). His populist message is attracting voters, much like Donald Trump’s has to Republicans. This doesn’t mean Sanders is going to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but it might cause the Democratic Party to fracture like the GOP is. It will be curious to see how those fractures end up settling and whether there will be a re-alignment of both political parties. I’m not 100% sure this will happen on the Left because there are Clinton supporters who are amendable to a Sanders presidency. But there are also Sanders supporters who are rather put off by Clinton and may choose to sit out (or vote 3rd party) if the Vermont senator isn’t elected president. It still shows the Democratic primary is as competitive as the Republican one, just with less sniping about spouses. For now.

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