A new poll out Tuesday on the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary shows the outcome is anyone’s guess between former vice president Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Beyond which candidate had what level of support in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary — scheduled for February 2020 — a deeper dive into the Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll provides a number of other big-picture takeaways.
The top tier is hard to crack
Biden, Sanders, and Warren are the only candidates with support in the double digits (21 percent, 17 percent, and 14 percent, respectively), and a closer read suggests that might not change anytime soon. Much of this has to do with the fact that a significant portion of their support is locked down. Nearly half of Sanders’ and Biden’s supporters in the poll say they their mind is made up and they aren’t looking at supporting anyone else in the field. Something dramatic could occur, of course, but odds are that the status quo will remain for a while.
Further, if there are big changes in the race, the poll found that Warren, not someone else outside of the top three, is in the best position to benefit. Warren was the “second choice” of 21 percent of respondents. No one else was even close to her in that category.
While Sanders has support locked down now, and Warren has the best potential to grow, Biden, it appears, has his own lane of supporters that no other candidate is even contesting. Biden’s support is very strong among older voters, moderates, and union members. For the most part, these voters aren’t even looking at other options.
New Hampshire Democrats are moderate
For all the conversation about how far left the Democratic Party has moved in recent years, the poll shows likely Democratic primary voters have not moved the same way. Yes, a majority back the Green New Deal concept and Medicare for All, but more than 50 percent describe themselves as either moderate, conservative, or very conservative. This is compared with the 45 percent who say they are either liberal or very liberal. While this might seem like a near tie, consider this survey polled likely Democratic voters — the party’s base — which is the most liberal.
Whether debates matter is an open question
This was the first poll taken in New Hampshire after the second round of debates, and it found that New Hampshire’s voters are engaged. Half of those surveyed watched at least some of the five hours of debates held over two nights on CNN last week.
Respondents also said that Warren, Biden, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii did especially well. But the only one who moved up in the poll was Gabbard.
Voters are attending events and campaigns are reaching out
While this presidential primary might be playing out in the national media and across more states than we have seen in decades, the first-in-the-nation primary is still humming along. That’s thanks to the combination of a New Hampshire electorate eager to engage and plenty of campaign staff in the state.
In the poll, half of the respondents said a campaign has reached out to them directly. And 23 percent of those surveyed said they had attended a 2020 campaign event like a town hall meeting or house party.