By Paul Steinhauser
Published March 01, 2019
DURHAM, N.H. – He trounced eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in the Granite State’s 2016 Democratic primary, and a new public opinion poll indicates Sen. Bernie Sanders has the early advantage with just under a year to go until the 2020 contest in the state that holds the first presidential primary.
Twenty-six percent of likely Democratic primary voters questioned in a University of New Hampshire survey said they’d support the independent senator from Vermont in next year’s contest.
The Granite State Poll was conducted Feb. 18-26, mostly after the Feb. 19 announcement by Sanders that he was launching a second presidential bid.
Twenty-two percent of those polled said they’d back former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s seriously considering a White House run. Public opinion survey’s conducted this early in an election cycle are often heavily influenced by name recognition.
One in ten said they’d back Sen. Kamala Harris of California, with seven percent supporting Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas – a likely White House hopeful – stood at five percent, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota at four percent and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey at there percent. Everyone else in the large field of 2020 Democratic contenders and potential contenders registered at one percent or less. Fourteen percent of those questioned were undecided.
UNH pollster Andrew Smith pointed out that those age 18-34 were more likely to support Sanders, with those 65 and older more likely to back Biden. And he spotlighted that Harris has jumped seven percentage points since an August survey, with Warren dropping ten points.
When not provided a list of candidates and asked an open-ended question on whom they’d back in next February’s primary, Sanders’ lead increased. He stood at 28 percent, with Biden at eight percent.
Harris stood at six percent, with Klobuchar at three percent and Warren and Booker a point back.
“More than four in ten Democratic primary voters remain undecided or cannot provide a name when asked an open-ended question about whom they will vote for in 2020,” Smith added.
Beating Republican President Trump remains a top concern for Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire and across the nation, and the survey indicated that Granite State Democrats see Biden at the most electable in the general election. Nearly a third of those questioned said Biden had the best chance of winning in November 2020, with Sanders ten points back at 22 percent. Everyone else was a five percent or less.
The poll also asked likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters which candidate they would not vote for under any circumstances, with Warren topping that list at 13 percent, followed by Sanders at eight percent and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg at six percent. The billionaire media mogul is mulling a White House bid.
Trump trounced a large field in New Hampshire’s 2016 GOP presidential primary, launching him on the way to the Republican nomination and eventually the White House. The poll indicated that more than 80 percent of Granite State Republicans approve of the job the president’s doing steering the country.
But only 56 percent of likely GOP primary voters said they plan on voting for Trump in the 2020 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary. Fifteen percent said they’d back another candidate, with nearly three in ten undecided.
In a hypothetical primary matchup, the poll indicates Trump’s support rises. Sixty-eight percent said they would back Trump, with 17 percent supporting former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and three percent voting for former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. Kasich, who came in second to Trump in the 2016 New Hampshire Republican primary, is a vocal critic of the president who’s mulling a primary challenge. Weld, another Trump critic, last month formed a presidential exploratory committee as he seriously weighs a longshot primary challenge.
Six-hundred and four people were questioned by live operators in the University of New Hampshire Granite State poll. The survey’s sampling error for likely Democratic primary votes is plus or minus 6.3 percentage points and 6.6 percentage points for likely GOP primary voters.