By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE — Hillary Clinton holds a 10-point advantage over her closest rival for the Democratic nomination for president in the all-important New Hampshire primary, according to a new Suffolk University poll of likely primary voters that shows Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders picking up steam.
The poll found Clinton leading Sanders 41 percent to 31 percent, followed by Vice President Joe Biden, who is not a candidate, at 7 percent and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at 3 percent.
Suffolk Political Research Center Director David Paleologos found reasons in the numbers for Clinton to be concerned.
“Most political observers felt that Hillary Clinton’s large early lead among Democratic voters would eventually shrink a bit over time,” Paleologos said. “But in New Hampshire right now, the lead has shrunk a lot, and this is a much different Democratic primary race than we are seeing in other states so far.”
A WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll conducted in early May after Sanders announced his candidacy put the liberal Democrat at just 13 percent to Clinton’s 51 percent support.
Clinton leads Sanders 47 percent to 28 percent among women and 46 percent to 26 percent among self-identified moderates, but Sanders is tied with Clinton at 39 percent among liberals and leads Clinton by three points with men, according to the Suffolk poll.
The most popular reasons for voters who picked someone other than Clinton as their first choice for the Democratic nomination was that it’s too early and they needed more information (12 percent) or they didn’t trust her (12 percent.) Another 10 percent said they just preferred Sanders. Six percent of voters who didn’t pick Clinton as their top candidate said they were tired of the Clintons.
With Clinton set to testify on Capitol Hill before a House committee on Tuesday about attacks on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, 61 percent of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters said they were not bothered by how Clinton handled Benghazi as secretary of state, though 46 percent said it will hurt her in the election.
Fifty-nine percent were not bothered that Clinton used a private email server and deleted emails she did not consider relevant to her work as secretary of state, but 51 percent said it will hurt her.
In the Live-Free-Or-Die state, 51 percent of likely voters in the Democratic primary said raising taxes should be an option to reduce the national debt. Forty-two percent said the Affordable Care Act should be modified, 40 percent said it should be left alone and 13 percent said it should be repealed.
Clinton had a favorability rating of 72 percent, just a tick below President Barack Obama’s 75 percent favorable among New Hampshire Democrats. The survey of 500 likely voters in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary between June 11 and June 15 had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.