The latest 2020 primary polling has nothing but bad news for Bernie Sanders

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesSen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a news conference on prescription drugs January 10, 2019 at the Capitol in Washington, DC.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders got some bad news in the most recent 2020 polling, and it spells trouble for him in an important primary state.
  • A new Monmouth University poll out of New Hampshire shows former Vice President Joe Biden in first place with a double-digit lead over Sanders – 36% to 18%.
  • And despite far higher name recognition, which counts for a lot early on, the poll showed Sanders only nine points ahead of the candidate in third place – Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
  • Sanders has seen a sharp decline in major polls over the past month, and a recent Morning Consult poll showed Biden with a 21 point lead over the Vermont senator.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders started his 2020 campaign off with a bang, but the most recent polling offers the Vermont lawmaker a fair amount of bad news – especially when placed in broader context.

A new Monmouth University poll out of New Hampshire shows former Vice President Joe Biden in first place with a double-digit lead over Sanders, with 36% of likely Democratic primary voters backing Biden compared to 18% for Sanders, self-declared democratic socialist.

The poll shows Sanders as only nine points ahead of the candidate in third place, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, even with significantly higher name recognition (92% compared to Buttigieg’s 61%). Being well-known is often half the battle in early presidential primary polling, before debates and other events give an opportunity for newcomers to step onto the national stage.

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Additionally, the poll shows Biden faring much better with demographics that tend to vote at higher rates. With voters aged 65 and older, for example, Biden had 53% compared to just 9% for Sanders. In the 2016 election, 71% of voters in this age group participated.

The good news for Sanders is he bested Biden with voters under the age of 50 by 27% to 20%, but people in this age group tend to vote at lower rates. In 2016, for example, about 59% of 30 to 44-year-olds participated, along with about 46% of 18 to 29-year-olds, according to the US Census Bureau.

New Hampshire is the site of the first in the nation primary and the second major contest in the presidential nominating process after the Iowa caucuses. If a candidate doesn’t perform well in either of these states they’re likely to struggle down the line, and it’s not uncommon for people to drop out after either Iowa or New Hampshire.

“I find it very hard to see [Sanders] winning the nomination if he doesn’t succeed in New Hampshire,” Mark Longabaugh, a former top strategist for the Vermont senator, recently told Vox.

Sanders in 2016 won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire by a landslide. But despite representing the neighbouring state of Vermont, the senator might struggle in the Granite State this time around, based on the Monmouth numbers and other recent polling.

Sanders’ numbers are flatlining

There was a brief moment in the 2020 race in which it was not unreasonable to peg Sanders as the early frontrunner among declared candidates. But Sanders’ numbers have flatlined across the board in recent weeks, especially after Biden hopped in the race.

A University of New Hampshire poll from early to mid-April showed Sanders as the top candidate by far, with 30% of likely Democratic primary voters backing the Vermont senator compared to 18% for Biden, who came in second.

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But a Suffolk University poll – the first conducted in New Hampshire after Biden entered the race – showed Sanders with 12% of voters backing him, placing him eight points behind Biden and tied with Buttigieg.

Meanwhile, from a national standpoint, Sanders has seen a sharp decline in major polls over the past month.

In late March, Morning Consult polling showed Sanders in second place among 2020 Democrats with 25% and Biden in first with 33%. Fast-forward to the most recent polling from Morning Consult, and Sanders is down to 19% and Biden all the way up to 40%.

There’s still a lot of time left in this race and early polling can be misleading, but the most recent numbers suggest Sanders is having a lot of trouble keeping up with Biden and in some cases is even being gained on by candidates like Buttigieg.

He’s still among the top candidates vying for the 2020 nomination, but it’s not good news for Sanders.

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