- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 27 January 2016
- Written by BENJAMIN SMITH | STAFF WRITER
A recent national survey conducted by the University’s Polling Institute that was released on Jan. 19 shows a surging Bernie Sanders cutting into Hillary Clinton’s share of the most likely liberal voters.
The poll, which questions the popular perception of Hillary Clinton as the inevitable Democratic nominee for president, was mostly completed prior to the latest Democratic Primary Debate held in Charleston, SC on Sunday January 17.
According the poll’s latest findings, Clinton has the support of 52% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters nationwide, down from 59% in December. Sanders received 37% support, which is up substantially from his 26% support level last month and narrows Clinton’s lead to 15 points.
Just last month, a Monmouth poll suggested Sanders lagged behind Clinton by 33 points nationally. In Iowa Tues., where polls reported the two in a statistical tie, Sanders asserted that he’s confident he can win.
“When we started, we were in three percent in the polls,” said Sanders. “We were fifty points behind. Today, the inevitable candidate does not look quite so inevitable as she did eight and a half months ago.”
This marks the first time Clinton’s lead has dropped below twenty points in a national Monmouth poll.
“Clinton has lost ground with nearly every major Democratic voting bloc since December,” according to a report paired with the release of the poll’s results, with her biggest drops recorded among “self-described liberals,” from a 57% – 31% advantage over Sanders one month ago to a 42% – 51% deficit in the current poll.
Clinton has also dropped significantly among women (from a 64% – 19% lead last month to a smaller 54% – 35% edge now) and voters under the age of fifty (from a 52% – 35% lead to a 39% – 52% shortfall).
However, Clinton has clung on to high levels of support from two crucial groups. Voters over the age of fifty, who typically constitute a majority of the actual primary electorate, continue to support her over Sanders by a substantial 64% – 24% margin, relatively unchanged from the 67% – 16% lead she amassed among this group in December.
Furthermore, black and Latino voters, who are expected to comprise a large share of the vote in South Carolina and Nevada as well as in many Super Tuesday states, support her by a solid 71% – 21% margin, which is actually an increase over her 61% – 18% lead last month.
“Sanders is aided by the fact that most Super Tuesday contests are open to independent voters – a group where he performs well,” said Patrick Murray, director of the University Polling Institute.
“On the other hand, about two-thirds of the pledged delegates awarded on March 1 will be from states where black and Latino voters comprise anywhere from one-third to a majority of the electorate,” said Murray. Adding, “It looks like the demographic dynamic that hurt Clinton in 2008 may be what helps her in 2016.”
Bryan Larco, a Monmouth University graduate student studying Public Policy, claims that while he is still undecided, “Clinton represents the most serious candidate, especially when it comes to foreign policy.”
Larco, who was born in Ecuador before his family emigrated to the U.S., dismissed Sanders’ global affairs credentials citing his anti-regime change stance toward the Syrian civil war “lacks robust planning” and “provides no peace of mind.”
Conversely, Monmouth’s most recent national survey of likely Republican voters released Wed., Jan. 20, found Donald Trump comfortably maintaining his commanding lead in the race for the Republican nomination.
Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio remain the only other candidates polling in double digits. Among these three, Trump is seen as the stronger opponent against Hillary Clinton in November’s general election.
Perhaps most interestingly, Trump continues to draw his support evenly across the ideological spectrum – including 35% of very conservative voters, 36% of somewhat conservative voters, and 36% of moderate voters.
Cruz performs at his best among those who are very conservative (27%) or somewhat conservative (18%), compared with moderate voters (7%).
Rubio pulls in a consistent 11-12% among all three groups.
“These results suggest that the GOP race is fairly static on a national level. We’ll have to wait and see if the Iowa and New Hampshire results shake things up,” said Murray.
Just under half (44%) of Democratic voters say Clinton would have a better shot against GOP front-runner Donald Trump in November compared to just 16% who say Sanders would be better positioned in the general election. Another 35% say Clinton and Sanders would be equally as likely to beat Trump.
Clinton is seen as the more formidable opponent against both Ted Cruz (39% Clinton better – 17% Sanders better) and Marco Rubio (37% Clinton better – 17% Sanders better).
Regardless of the eventual matchup, Monmouth graduate student Mary Lou Pardey believes there remains little threat to the candidacy of Clinton.
“Although I’m leaning more towards Bernie than Clinton, I think she’ll adopt enough of his populist message to appeal to most liberals while capturing enough moderate votes with her hawkish foreign policies,” said Pardey.
Among likely Republican primary voters, Trump is seen as the strongest threat to Hillary Clinton. More GOP voters say that Trump (37%) would have a better shot than Cruz (24%) at beating Clinton in November, with 31% saying the two candidates would be equally as strong against the Democratic frontrunner.
By an even wider margin, Trump (47%) is seen as more formidable than Rubio (22%) against Clinton, with 25% giving the two an equal chance. GOP voters are more divided on which of the two senators would be better positioned to take on Clinton – 31% choose Cruz, 23% choose Rubio, and 32% say the two would have an equal shot.
“Contrary to many party leaders’ hopes, the electability argument is not going to drag down Trump,” said Murray.