Bernie Sanders is in a 'statistical tie' with Hillary Clinton in one key primary state

Bernie SandersAPBernie Sanders.

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton and fellow Democratic candidate and US Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) are in a “statistical tie” in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, according to a new poll of the state released Thursday evening.

The poll, from CNN and New Hampshire station WMUR, found that Clinton leads Sanders, 43-35, among Democratic primary voters in the state. But that result is within the margin of error (plus-or-minus 5.2%).

“Hillary Clinton, who has held comfortable leads over all her Democratic rivals, is now in a statistical tie with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire,” wrote Andrew Smith and Zach Azem of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducted the poll.

It’s the third such poll of the Granite State released within a little more than a week that has shown Clinton facing a bit more trouble than anticipated. Two previous polls found Sanders coming within 10 and 12 points, respectively, of Clinton.

Clinton’s advisers have said all along that they expect a competitive primary process. But Sanders became the surprising favoured alternative: In a May poll from Bloomberg and St. Anselm College, Sanders trailed Clinton by 44 points among Democrats.

In the CNN/WMUR poll, Clinton and Sanders now own identical net favorability ratings among Democratic primary voters.

Clinton’s lead in the survey has narrowed considerably since the last conducted WMUR/CNN poll. In May, she held a significant 31-point lead over US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), who has said repeatedly that she will not run for president but was still being included in polls at that point.

Clinton has some clear advantages among Democratic primary voters in the state — for example, she is viewed as the “strongest leader” by more than 40 points, and she’s also viewed as the candidate who “has personal characteristics and qualities you think a president should have.”

But she’s also viewed as the “least honest” Democrat in the field (28% of voters say so). And Sanders is the candidate who Democrats think “best represents Democrats like yourself”( by 41-30 over Clinton) and who “cares the most about people like you” (by 45-24 over Clinton).

After Clinton and Sanders, 8% of Democrats in the poll preferred Vice President Joe Biden as their candidate of choice. And 2% chose former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

But for all of the potential warning signs in New Hampshire, Clinton does not appear to be facing similar tightening in other primary states. A Morning Consult poll released last week gave her more than 40-point leads in both Iowa and South Carolina.

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