Days ahead of the nation’s first presidential primary, Senator Bernie Sanders has opened up a six-point lead over former vice president Joe Biden, according to a new Boston Globe/WBZ-TV/Suffolk University poll of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters.
Sanders, the Vermont independent who captured a convincing victory in New Hampshire four years ago, garnered 24 percent in the survey, buoyed by strong support from younger voters and independents. Biden took 18 percent.
Senator Elizabeth Warren had 13 percent, followed by former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, at 11 percent. The rest of the field was in single digits, while 12 percent of those surveyed said they were undecided eight days ahead of the Feb. 11 vote.
But after months of a fluid field, the poll indicated voters may be starting to settle. Sixty-four percent of Sanders voters say their minds are made up ahead of the primary, the highest share for any of the top tier of candidates.
About 59 percent of all those surveyed said they’ve decided on their candidate.
Sanders also had yawning leads among voters 18 to 35 years old, capturing 47 percent support in that age group, and in the northern and western parts of New Hampshire, where he carried 29 percent support.
“In two words: generation and geography,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, which conducted the poll. “He’s got a 31-point lead over Warren [among younger voters]. That’s really what’s driving his lead.”
Undeclared voters, or those not affiliated with a party, also heavily favored Sanders, at 30 percent.
With the run-up to the Iowa caucuses and President Trump’s impeachment trial playing out in Washington, D.C., New Hampshire many times in recent weeks played host to surrogates hoping to build momentum for their candidates who were sequestered on Capitol Hill or in a Des Moines town hall.
But with the Iowa caucuses ending Monday, New Hampshire will return to the center of the political universe and, thus, the focal point for presidential hopefuls.
On Tuesday alone, Pete Buttigieg is holding at least five events across the state, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is set to hold three. Sanders is scheduled to rally supporters in Milford before delivering what his campaign called a State of the Union Response in Manchester. Warren, meanwhile, will hold a town hall in Keene, and Biden is slated to appear in Nashua and Concord.
On Friday night, seven Democratic candidates have qualified for a debate hosted by WMUR-TV, ABC News, and Apple News at St. Anselm College. And on Monday, President Trump is planning to hold a rally in Manchester.
Monday’s poll, conducted by Suffolk’s Political Research Center on Sunday and Monday, is the first of seven daily tracking surveys that will be released ahead of the New Hampshire primary.
The polls will reflect a two-day rolling average of 500 likely voters, with 250 interviews conducted by live callers surveying people on landlines and cell phones each night. Each poll will have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
The Democratic field had remain tightly packed in the Granite State for months, often with Sanders holding the slightest of edges. He led with 23 percent of support, with Biden close behind at 22 percent, in a recent UMass Lowell poll. And a Suffolk/Globe poll released last month found a similar separation: Sanders at the top, with 16 percent support, and Biden in second at 15 percent.
To be sure, the results from the Iowa caucuses could also help shape voters’ opinions in the coming week. A surprise showing — good or bad for a candidate — could give some voters pause, while solidifying the choice for others.
“I think there is a lot of fluidity,” said Paleologos, recalling TV coverage showing some people had arrived at Iowa caucuses Monday still undecided. “I think it’s indicative of the fact that you have so many people in the top tier.”