Buttigieg surges to third place in new NH poll

A new public opinion survey in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House indicates that onetime longshot Pete Buttigieg is now in third place among the multitude of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The 37-year old South Bend, Ind., mayor has the support of 10.7 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, according to a Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll released Wednesday.

BUTTIGIEG CONTRASTS HIMSELF WITH BIDEN AND SANDERS

Former Vice President Joe Biden – expected by many political observers to formally announce a White House bid in the coming weeks – topped the poll. Nearly 23 percent said if the primary were held today, they’d vote for Biden. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – who’s running a second straight time for the Democratic nomination – was second at 15.6 percent.

Sanders won the 2016 Democratic primary in the Granite State by 22 percentage points over eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.

Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran who would be the nation’s first openly gay president, was next in line.

“The emerging dark horse in this race may be Pete Buttigieg, who has gone from a virtual unknown to vault to 11 percent support,” said Neil Levesque, the executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. “His emergence as a factor is driven by a 33-point increase in name recognition, almost all of it favorable.”

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren of neighboring Massachusetts was in fourth place, at 8.7 percent, followed by Sen. Kamala Harris of California at 6.8 percent and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas at 6.4 percent.

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey grabbed the support of 4.4 percent of those questioned, followed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 2.2 percent. Everyone else registered at 1 percent or less.

The poll was conducted April 3-8, during the height of media coverage of the controversy over allegations that Biden had inappropriately touched women.

NEW POLL: DEMOCRATS, WOMEN, SHRUG OFF BIDEN CONTROVERSY

The survey indicated that the former vice president’s favorability among likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire dropped 10 percentage points, to a still strong 70 percent.

Biden’s well-publicized, affectionate brand of physical politics was thrust into the spotlight nearly two weeks ago, thanks to allegations from 2014 Nevada Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Lucy Flores. She said in an essay published in New York magazine that Biden made her feel "uneasy, gross and confused" at a campaign rally when she said he kissed her on the back of the head. Her claims quickly went viral and became a top cable news story for a  week.

Speaking with reporters last Friday, the former vice president stressed: “I’m sorry I didn’t understand more. I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything I’ve ever done. I’ve never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman.”

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Biden acknowledged that "it is incumbent on me and everybody else to make sure that if you embrace someone, if you touch someone, it’s with their consent, regardless of your intentions."

The Saint Anselm College poll was conducted by live operators, with 698 registered voters in New Hampshire questioned. The margin of error was plus or minus 5.4 percentage points.