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Clinton ahead of Sanders in latest N.H. poll

A poll of New Hampshire voters conducted by WBUR shows Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (right) moving ahead of US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.John Locher/Associated Press/File 2015

Hillary Clinton has reclaimed her lead over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential race in New Hampshire and appears to be sapping support from potential candidate Joe Biden, according to a WBUR poll that was set for release Wednesday morning.

The survey, which gives Clinton a 38 to 34 percent lead over Sanders, adds fuel to the debate over how much the former secretary of state’s strong performance in the first Democratic presidential debate last week helped her political prospects.

A recent Public Policy Polling survey put Clinton on top in New Hampshire, site of the first-in-the-nation primary. A Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll had Clinton climbing into a dead heat in the state.


Two other polls, one commissioned by the Boston Herald and the other by Bloomberg Politics, had Sanders holding onto his edge.

Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, which conducted the survey for WBUR, a public radio station, argued the debate “helped voters remember the confidence they had in [Clinton] in the past.”

Koczela noted that 71 percent of poll respondents said Clinton can win the general election against the eventual Republican nominee, compared with just 18 percent who said she cannot.

That’s a substantial shift from a September poll his firm conducted for WBUR, which had 56 percent saying she could win the general election and 29 percent saying she could not.

Clinton trailed Sanders 31 percent to 35 percent in the September survey.

She appears to have gained at the expense of Biden, who saw his support slip from 14 percent in September to 9 percent in the most recent survey.

Biden is expected to announce a decision on whether to run for president in the coming days. Koczela said the poll suggests some public weariness with his drawn-out decision-making process.

The proportion of likely voters who said they have a favorable view of Biden declined by 11 percentage points between WBUR’s September and October surveys.


Second-tier candidates Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee saw their unfavorable ratings jump in the wake of the first Democratic presidential debate. And they barely registered in the head-to-head race with the top-tier candidates.

Webb on Tuesday ended his Democratic campaign and said he would consider running as an independent.

The WBUR survey of 401 likely Democratic primary voters, conducted October 15-18, has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

David Scharfenberg can be reached at david.scharfenberg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dscharfGlobe. Click here to subscribe to James Pindell’s daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign.