Bernie Leads In New Hampshire! (Or Does He?)

Bernie Sanders may be getting trounced in the national polls by Hillary Clinton, but you wouldn’t know it judging by his followers’ media presence. I was up yesterday on Los Angeles radio station KPCC’s AirTalk with host Larry Mantle (shortly before their segment on best dive bars in L.A.!) to discuss still another well-attended Bernie event, this one taking place in L.A. the night before, when about 25,000 people attended either in person or watched outside the LA Sports arena in which Bernie spoke. Every caller to the radio show was a Bernie supporter, and almost all raved about Bernie’s “electric” presentation to his passionate supporters.  I have written and talked previously about the fact that Bernie’s support among Latinos and African-Americans still lags relative to Hillary’s. Here’s a chart put together by Philip Bump based on Gallup polling that shows the relative favorable/unfavorable numbers of the various candidates among African-Americans.

Bernie has attracted large crowds before, of course, but they were in places like Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and Madison, Wisconsin – bastions of white liberalism that are not exactly cross-sections of the more diverse Democratic electorate. However, several of the callers to Mantle’s show took pains to point out the racially diverse composition of Bernie’s Los Angeles’ audience. This may be the hopeful among the #FeeltheBern crowd looking at the audience through rose-tinted glasses, of course, but it is clear that Bernie is making a concerted effort to reach out to non-whites in anticipation of competing in the contests beyond Iowa and New Hampshire. It is important to remember that although Bernie has lower favorable ratings than Clinton among African-Americans and Latinos, it is also the case that 60% or more of these groups don’t really know who he is. When you look only at those who express a favorable or unfavorable view toward Bernie, his percentage of favorable support comes closer to matching Clinton’s.

It will be interesting to see how much ground Bernie can gain among these voters in the months to come.

Meanwhile, in a reminder that no good deed goes unpunished, my last post cautioning readers to be wary of drawing conclusions based on one poll has been drawing its fair share of criticism in light of a more recent Boston Herald/Franklin Pierce poll that has Bernie leading Clinton 44%-37% in New Hampshire among 442 randomly selected likely Democratic presidential primary voters. The survey was in the field August 7-10, and has a margin of error of +/-4%.  Since I received a few emails after my last post asking me to clarify the difference between a “statistical tie” and what the New York Times mistakenly (in my view) called a “dead heat”, I thought it might be useful to present the latest poll results visually, using a nifty app developed by Nicholas Neuteufel that graphs the polls results, including the margin of error.

sanders tied

Once again, as the graph suggests, we can’t discount the possibility, given the margin of error, that Clinton and Bernie are tied, or that Clinton might even be slightly ahead. At the same time, however, based on this one poll, the odds are greater that Bernie is now ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire.  But, of course, as I reminded readers in my last poll, we shouldn’t rely on only one poll.  Not surprisingly – and my caution notwithstanding – Bernie supporters seem convinced that this latest poll is an accurate barometer of the current state of the Democratic primary race New Hampshire. Note, however, that both the RealClearPolitics and aggregate polls continue to have Hillary holding a slim lead over Bernie in the Granite state. Here’s the aggregate polling chart:

Nonetheless, the latest poll result ought to give Sanders’ supporters an additional reason to flood the airwaves, not to mention castigating wayward bloggers who have the temerity to focus on the data, as opposed to #FeelingtheBern. So, at the risk of inciting more ire, let me raise two more cautionary flags for Bernie supporters. The Boston Herald poll also indicates that the race in NH remains very fluid with fully 60% of respondents saying they could change their mind, and only 30% saying they are following the race very closely. As I found out in my stint on Mantle’s show, Bernie supporters are out in force this early in the race.   It remains to be seen how support plays out as more people begin paying attention to the race an attitudes begin to firm.  It may be that questions of viability will loom larger in the polling. Most of the respondents – 65%, to be precise – to the Herald poll still believe Clinton is going to win the Democratic nomination. Remember, Bernie’s big electoral test of viability is not going to be New Hampshire or Iowa – it’s going to be South Carolina, Nevada and the more racially diverse states that come later in the nominating process. In that vein, I was on the phone with a reporter today discussing why Bernie has yet to gain traction with the #BlackLivesMatter crowd. I’ll have more to say about that in a later post. For now, keep those critical comments coming but, please, don’t shoot the messenger!  And for Bernie supporters, I leave you with this image:



  1. Thanks for sharing the new “margin of error” graph, Matt. It is very helplful to have a new visual which clarifies the polls.

    Bernie and Trump are tapping into a political angst that most of the candidates and the media didnt see coming and are still trying to figure out. It may be that Bernie will go the way of Howard Dean, but as the Times pointed out, they are very different types of candidates.

    Bernie is the one candidate who isnt touting growth; he wants to redistribute income like the good socialist he is. Trump has got “the mad as hell crowd” and if they stick with him, it will change the dynamics of the Republican primary dramatically.

    What fun to watch all this play out.


  2. I always knew that Vermont voters were crazy; it has not occurred to me previously that New Hampshire voters drink the Kool-Aid made with the same water.

    I know it is a lot of fun now, but once the voting starts, I look for things to revert to normal. I can’t accept yet that Bernie and Donald are the new norm.

  3. Jack – Bernie is certainly not Howard Dean – unlike Howard, Bernie’s views haven’t evolved to appeal to the Democratic nomination voters. Instead, he’s simply repeating a message he’s been pronouncing for years. The question is how widely it will resonate beyond the white liberal wing of the Democratic party. But, yes, this is the most entertaining pair of nominating races I have seen in a while!

  4. Shelly – Well, it’s not all New Hampshire voters, mind you – just about 40% of likely Democratic voters. And, as you note, there’s still a long way to go. Right now most voters aren’t paying much heed to the campaign, but when they began seriously evaluating candidates in terms of viability, these numbers may swing back to more mainstream candidates.

  5. A needed distinction for those who link Bernie with Trump as the crazy ends of the spectrum. Its a cavalier way of equating and dismissing two very dissimilar people.

    Bernie’s is a call for social justice in a society tilted heavily in favor of the rich and super-rich, a cry not too dissimilar from Pope Francis’ recent encyclical and sermons which so moved Latin America. That’s why Bernie resonates so deeply with our underprivileged as well as with many other thoughtful people who worry about the long-term stability of our increasingly imbalanced and corrupted system.

    Trump, on the other hand, is a profoundly self-centered and impulsive primitive whose charismatic shock appeal resonates with an angry, turned-off segment of our society. He epitomizes everything that’s anti: He is anti-establishment, anti-intellectual, anti-political correctness and anti-anybody who disagrees with him. If elected he would precipitate world crises within weeks.

    There is a world of difference…

  6. George – Indeed there is a world of difference between Trump and Sanders, particularly in their policy views and, perhaps, their preparedness to be President. Still, although the differences loom large, I do think Jack is right that some of their support is coming from voters dissatisfied with the status quo in politics. The difference, as you so eloquently point out, is in how they propose to change that status quo…. .

  7. Bernie has a 97% rating from the NAACP. Hillary only has 96%.
    I can understand that maybe he hasn’t communicated on this topic as much as he needed to – but on the other hand, given his 50 years of activism on behalf of African Americans, and his rock solid voting record and history of supporting black causes, he might be forgiven for having thought that he did not have to “prove himself” today.
    Still – he is now very much engaged, having published his platform on racial inequality. I have searched and searched for Hillary Clinton’s own “Plan to combat racial inequality” but I cannot find anything anywhere. It must not exist. Granted, writing such a “racial justice” plan would be problematic for Hillary, because it would have to start with rolling back and dismantling all of the horrible things she and her husband did to the Black Community (in the 1990’s – abolishing AFDC, decimating the social safety net, and promoting mass incarceration of minorities through the “Clinton Crime Bill.”
    This will all come out in due time, and those numbers will change.

  8. Joseph,

    I’ve had a couple of extended conversations with journalists that past couple of days where I made exactly this point re: Sanders’ past history supporting civil rights. I’ll be posting on this in the next few days, but suffice to say that, at this point, Sanders is trailing Clinton among African-American and Latino voters. The good news for Bernie is that most African-American and Latino voters tell pollsters they don’t really know him, so there’s room for growth.

  9. As an apparently crazy Vermont voter, I wonder what Shelly’s response to George
    would be, reaction vs reason. (I actually disrupt Shelly’s norm by preferring good Vermont, not too hoppy, brown beer, gin and tonic and wine to cool aid ).

  10. Sure, I’m game. Problem is, I live in The People’s Republic of Santa Monica. But if you send your G-4 or 5 for me, I will come.

    I’m not much on beer; a pale ale is about my limit. But, a good Tanquerey and Tonic, maybe two or three might get me to admit that Bernie has a likable quality.

    Dame Thatcher is credited as saying “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money [to spend].” At 18 trillion and running, we are almost there. Time to unleash the great economic engine that is America. Bernie is not the one to do this.

    However, we on the right owe Bernie a great debt; he has shown us that the Emperess has no clothes. This beats Monday and Thursday night football. (But not Panther football)

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