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Sanders, Buttigieg lead in N.H. poll; debate performance appears to lift Klobuchar

Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders.Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A strong debate performance by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar on Friday night appeared to halt Pete Buttigieg’s surging poll numbers in New Hampshire, the latest Boston Globe/WBZ-TV/Suffolk University daily tracking poll found.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders reclaimed the top spot in New Hampshire with 24 percent, followed by Buttigieg with 22 percent, a statistical tie for first place. The former South Bend, Ind., mayor dropped 3 percentage points from the previous day.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and former vice president Joe Biden remained relatively steady with 13 percent and 10 percent support each, the survey, released Saturday night, found.

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Klobuchar has 9 percent support among likely New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary voters, up 3 percentage points from a day earlier and now knocking on the door of the perceived top-tier candidates.

“Amy Klobuchar’s strong debate performance had not only stopped Pete Buttigieg’s momentum but now she is the interesting person to watch,” said pollster David Paleologos, of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

Saturday’s results came from polling conducted Friday and Saturday, and they reflect a two-day rolling average of 500 likely voters, with 250 interviews conducted by live callers to both landlines and cellphones each night. The poll’s margin of error was plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points.

On Saturday, Klobuchar crisscrossed the state, buoyed by larger crowds and the buzz of a widely praised debate performance.

The new results came after a day of the former vice president going on the offensive, criticizing Buttigieg and saying he is no Barack Obama.

Biden also released a digital attack ad Saturday mocking Buttigieg’s tenure as a small city mayor.

Buttigieg responded. In front of an estimated 7,000 people at a New Hampshire Democratic Party dinner in Manchester, he began by saying he is sick of small cities being “reduced to a punchline by Washington politicians."

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The unsettled nature of the so-called moderate lane in this primary became even more unsettled with Klobuchar now looking like a bigger player in this space, according to Paleologos. And, in turn, it has helped Sanders remain on top.

“Sanders has been able to make his mid-20s numbers stick and look strong as long as more moderate candidates continue to mix it up,” said Paleologos.

One thing to watch in Sunday’s poll is whether Klobuchar’s rise and Buttigieg’s fall continue, given that only two-thirds of respondents were asked for their feelings after the debate. By Sunday night, all respondents could have either watched the debate or followed coverage of it afterward.

After Klobuchar, the poll found entrepreneur Andrew Yang with 3 percent, and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard and businessman Tom Steyer at 2 percent each. Neither Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick nor Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado cracked 1 percent support in the poll. Twelve percent of voters remained undecided.

This poll is the sixth of seven that the Suffolk University Political Research Center is conducting in the run-up to the nation’s first primary on Tuesday.


James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell.