Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign has something to worry about, as competitor Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders threatens to win the first two primary nominating contests. Two new polls give Sanders an edge in both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. The NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Marist survey released Sunday morning, Jan. 10, 2016, of the Iowa contest has Sanders trailing Clinton by just three points, within the margin of error. While a Fox News poll released on Friday, Jan. 9 gives Sanders a huge 13-point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire. Fearing the nomination is slipping away, Clinton is ramping up her attacks against Sanders.
The Fox News poll looking at support in New Hampshire gives Sanders 50 percent to Clinton’s 37 percent. The results in the same poll in November showed a much closer race. Sanders had 45 percent support, while Clinton had 44 percent, a virtual tie. Analysts are already predicting Clinton will almost certainly lose New Hampshire to Sanders.
The contest in Iowa is much more of a tossup. According to the NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Marist poll, Clinton has 48 percent support to Sanders 45 percent only a three point difference. The poll shows Clinton’s support is slipping because the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls showed had a lead of 12.5 points in Iowa.
The NBC News poll also looked New Hampshire showing a closer race than the Fox News poll, but Sanders still leads by 4 points. In the poll, Sanders has 50 percent to Clinton’s 46 percent. The numbers are similar to RealClearPolitics average of recent polls, where Sanders has a lead of
The poll numbers are making the Clinton campaign “nervous” and nervous was the exact word they used in the subject line in a Wednesday, Jan. 6 email to supporters. Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook sent an email writing, “There’s a situation developing in Iowa and New Hampshire that could change the course of this election.” Another fundraising email released on Friday after Fox News released their poll commented that the poll numbers were “(seriously!) tight.”
All week, the Clinton campaign has been increasing their attacks on Sanders on issues such as electability and gun control, trying to depict their opponent as radical and unelectable. ABC News summarized the Clinton campaign strategy against Sanders this week. On Monday, Jan. 4, they attacked him before his Wall Street reform speech, then spent Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 5 and 6 attacking his electability.
On Thursday, Jan. 7, Clinton went after his position on paid-leave, and then Friday, Jan. 8 made an issue with his past positions on gun control. Clinton called MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Friday attacking Sanders gun control position on “Hardball,” saying, “You know, maybe it’s time for Sen. Sanders to stand up and say I got this one wrong.” Continuing Clinton said, “When it really mattered, Senator Sanders voted with the gun lobby and I voted against the gun lobby.”
The Clinton campaign is denying their rhetoric has to do with Sanders rising poll numbers, Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon responded, “Republicans are trying to rip away the progress we have made on issue after issue, and we are making clear that Hillary Clinton is the best candidate to take them on and get things done.”
The Sanders campaign notices a direct correlation between their candidate’s poll numbers and the Clinton’s campaign tactics. Sanders communications director Michael Briggs stated, “See the new Fox poll that had Bernie up a lot in New Hampshire? No wonder they’re in attack mode. Secretary Clinton and her team are getting nervous and nasty because the so-called inevitable nominee anointed by the establishment eight months ago doesn’t look so inevitable anymore.”
Clinton needs to win the two “crucial” primaries, in 2008 coming in third in Iowa ruined her campaign, even though she went on to win New Hampshire. Clinton is acting desperate attacking Sanders electability, however; a new Public Policy Polling’s survey released on Friday, Jan. 8 concludes that Sanders would do better against the Republican frontrunners in potential general election matchups.
Sanders bests GOP frontrunner Donald Trump with a 20-point lead, and he has the same lead against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Sanders leads by 14 points. In addition, Sanders has the most positive favorability rating of all candidates with 55 to 35 percent.
When Clinton faces the GOP candidates, she only leads within the margin of error. Clinton would lead Rubio by just 3 points, 45 to 42 percent; she leads by 6 points over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 46 to 40 percent. Clinton beats retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson by 11 points and trounces Trump with a lead of 44 percent. A Fox News poll counters that and says that Trump would beat Clinton 47 to 44 percent.
In Iowa this past week Clinton argued, “Think hard about the people who are presenting themselves to you, their experience, their qualifications, their positions. And particularly for those of us who are Democrats, their electability. And how we make sure we have a Democrat going back into that White House on January 20, 2017.” Democrats seem to be answering Clinton by saying they feel Sanders better fits this description than Clinton.
The major theme of the 2016 campaign has been that American voters are looking and supporting anti-establishment candidates, like Sanders and Trump. According to Mercury Analytics if Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee 20 percent of Democrats would defect and vote for Trump in the general election. If the polls are any indication, Clinton has a reason to be nervous in over a month she might be in the same place as she was in 2008 the road to losing a once inevitable Democratic presidential nomination.