According to the logic behind the phrase “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Republican presidential candidates should be feeling friendly toward Bernie Sanders right now. A new poll from Morning Consult shows Sanders surging in early primary state New Hampshire against Hillary Clinton in a poll of presidential candidates.
Clinton is the early leader in each of the three early states polled – no surprise considering her name recognition – but whereas she is the top choices of 54 percent of Iowa Democrats and 56 percent of Democrats in South Carolina, her lead in New Hampshire is considerably smaller.
There she was the top choice of less than half of those polled (44%), while Sanders is the top choice of close to a third of respondents. As the margin of error for the Democratic samples in all three polls is plus or minus 6 percent, Sanders is actually within the margin of error of Clinton in New Hampshire.
Sanders has tended to find success as the anti-Clinton candidate among Democrats. By all accounts a man of his word who is willing to be completely honest that he is a socialist, he is likely to find support among liberals who see Clinton as a corrupt, moderate, establishment sellout. Though Sanders probably will not win the nomination, his surge shows that Clinton is vulnerable and by no means inevitable.
New Hampshire borders Sanders’ home state of Vermont, one reason he is most successful there. Still, he runs second in Iowa as well and third in South Carolina (behind Clinton and Vice President Biden).
Furthermore, Clinton is currently shown to be weakest in New Hampshire, a state that is certainly not conservative, but, like some of its New England neighbors, is more independent and even libertarian than liberal. Such a dynamic favors candidates from the Republicans side who are seen as anti-establishment and libertarian, such as Rand Paul, whose father finished second in New Hampshire in 2012.
Sanders’ strong – and Clinton’s relatively weak – showing in New Hampshire does not appear to be related to any perception of President Obama’s performance. 43% of voters approve of Obama’s handling of the job in both New Hampshire and Iowa. (His disapproval rating is 56% and 54% in those states respectively.)
Morning Consult notes,
No matter who captures the Democratic nomination, that candidate will have to contend with voters’ impressions of President Obama. And in New Hampshire and Iowa, two states solidly in the swing column, Obama’s approval ratings are worryingly low.
“Worryingly low” approval ratings for Obama and competition for Hillary from the Left? Good news for all conservatives.