Aug. 7, 2015 — Over the past few weeks, VermontUniversity of New Hampshire has drawn great crowds on the presidential campaign trail while basking in nonstop media attention. But the increased activity and notice had not translated into meaningful ballot test movement against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
A new Granite State Poll release from the University of New Hampshire and the state’s top television news station (WMUR-TV channel 9; July 22-30; 722 New Hampshire adults; 276 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) suggests that Sanders may now be closing the polling gap. Climbing to within six points of Clinton, the Vermont Senator trails her 42-36 percent, suggesting a further possible erosion of the front-runner’s status.
In the past month or so things have continued to trend downward for the former Secretary of State and First Lady, particularly relating to her favorability index. With Sanders now potentially securing a foothold in New Hampshire, directly adjacent to his Vermont political base, the race has the appearance of becoming more precarious for her.
A point in Clinton’s potential favor, however, is the Granite Poll’s reliability factor. Long viewed as a provider of inconsistent and often unreliable results, the current methodology has several flaws.
First, the pollsters did not screen for registered voters, choosing instead to accept a pool of adults. Second, the total sample of “276 likely Democratic primary voters” does not necessarily mean all are registered to vote. Third, the sample is too small; hence, a large polling error factor is present.
On the other hand, when looking at exterior political factors and the race’s recent atmospherics, Clinton’s lead dropping to single-digits appears to be a reasonable and believable projection.
Vice President Joe Biden, who may very well enter this race in September according to sources close to him, is included in the ballot test question but performs badly. While 78 percent of surveyed Democrats choose either Clinton or Sanders, only five percent expressed an interest in supporting Biden. The VP has not fared particularly well in any poll, but he has shown better since it became known that he may become a race participant. The remaining candidates: former Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), ex-senator and governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI), and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, all register just one percent preference.
This latter upward trend is not evident in this New Hampshire poll. Therefore, such could be another indication that the polling methodology is weak. Virtually every other similar survey finds Biden breaking into double-digits and performing approximately 10 percentage points better than in the Granite State Poll.
Sometimes election results are simply inexplicable. Such is the case of Tuesday’s Mississippi Democratic gubernatorial primary, which produced a shocking upset winner. Truck driver Robert Ray, who simply filed for the office, spent no money, did no advertising, and raised not a dime, won the Democratic primary outright and now faces Gov. Phil Bryant (R) in November. Gray defeated two Democratic opponents, securing majority support (51 percent). This means a run-off is avoided. In his own Republican primary, Bryant attracted 92 percent of the vote.
Because Gray will not to be a serious nominee in the fall election, we can expect the governor to win an easy re-election to a second term.