Bernie Sanders now tops Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination.
The latest Fox News national poll finds 47 percent of Democratic primary voters now back the Vermont senator, up from 37 percent in January. Clinton gets 44 percent, down from 49 percent a month ago.
This is the first time Sanders has been ahead of Clinton, who not long ago was regularly described as the “presumptive Democratic nominee.”
Clinton led Sanders in the Fox poll by as many as 46 points last summer, and had a 22-point lead as recently as two months ago.
“One thing that is clear from our poll -- and others -- is that Clinton has been losing support and Sanders has been gaining,” says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson. “And this process appears to have accelerated since the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.”
The timing of Sanders’ surge doesn’t surprise Republican pollster Daron Shaw: “Historically, lesser-known candidates beating establishment candidates in early contests have seen the biggest boost in their national support.” Shaw and Anderson jointly conduct the Fox News Poll.
The last two Fox News polls show Clinton’s drop-off has been most striking among women (she has gone from 28 points ahead of Sanders to just 3 points up, for a shift of minus 25 points), whites (-13 points), and regular Democrats (-14 points). She has mostly held constant among black voters and those with a college degree.
Shaw says a detailed comparison of the polls suggests, “Blue-collar, white Democrats have been a major source of Clinton’s defection.”
Sanders outperforms Clinton in a hypothetical matchup against Republican front-runner Donald Trump. He leads Trump by 53-38 percent. Clinton has a narrower five-point edge over Trump: 47-42 percent.
One reason Sanders has a larger lead over Trump than Clinton is independents are more likely to go for Sanders over Trump (54 vs. 33) than for her (43 vs. 39).
Sanders also does better against Trump in a potential three-way matchup if former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were to jump into the race. Under that scenario, it’s Sanders 46 percent vs. Trump at 35 percent with Bloomberg taking 12 percent. If the Democratic candidate is Clinton, she gets 39 to Trump’s 37 percent and Bloomberg receives 17 percent.
And there’s more:
Three in 10 voters nationally would feel either extremely or very satisfied if Sanders wins the presidency (30 percent). That’s more than say the same about Clinton (24 percent satisfied), Trump (21 percent satisfied), and Jeb Bush (15 percent satisfied).
On the flip side, Sanders has the smallest number -- 37 percent -- saying they would be “not at all” satisfied if he wins the White House. Fifty-five percent would feel “not at all” satisfied if Trump wins, 49 percent for Clinton, and 45 percent for Bush.
Many see Sanders’ promises of free college and universal health care as pie-in-the-sky, but 72 percent of Democrats say he is “realistic enough” to serve effectively as president. Overall, however, views are more mixed: 48 percent say Sanders is realistic enough, while 47 percent disagree. Among independents, it’s 48-44 percent.
Clinton’s Achilles’ heel may be trustworthiness. While Democrats think by 75-22 percent that Clinton “has the integrity” to serve effectively as president, a 55-percent majority of voters overall say she doesn’t. That includes 64 percent of independents.
The poll also confirms dynasty fatigue: 52 percent of voters say they are “tired of Clintons running for president” and 59 percent feel that way about the Bush family.
Meanwhile, Clinton’s close ties to the Obama administration could work to her disadvantage relative to the economy.
By a 45-42 percent margin, voters say it feels like the economy is getting worse -- not better.
President Obama’s approval rating currently stands at 49 percent, up from 45 percent last month. Forty-seven percent of voters disapprove of the job he’s doing.
When voters are asked who they think will be the next president, the largest number says Clinton (28 percent). She’s closely followed by Trump (25 percent). Another 17 percent say it will be Sanders, up from five percent who named him last September. Of course, the electorate’s crystal ball is often foggy. Back in March 2008, almost exactly eight years ago, voters said McCain would be the next president (35 percent) -- Barack Obama came in second (26 percent).
A new batch of Clinton emails were released Saturday by the State Department, including 81 that have now been marked “classified.”
Sixty percent of voters think Clinton put national security at risk by mishandling classified emails while she was secretary of state, up from 54 percent in August.
If Clinton escapes indictment for mishandling classified information, half of voters, 50 percent, think it will be mainly because the Obama administration is protecting her. Forty-one percent say it will be because there isn’t proof she committed a crime.
A third of Democrats (33 percent), 59 percent of independents, and 89 percent of Republicans believe national security was put at risk due to Clinton’s actions.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,031 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from February 15-17, 2016. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters, and 4.5 points for the Democratic primary voter sample (429).