Bernie Sanders has long been considered a longshot to defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. If he is going to be able to unseat the Democratic frontrunner, he has to win the New Hampshire primary (and the Iowa caucus would certainly be very helpful as well).
New Hampshire has looked like a good stat for the insurgent candidate to win, the state does border Sanders’ home state of Vermont and the primary allows independents to vote as well (a likely strong voting block for Sanders, an elected independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats). The latest poll out of New Hampshire seems to show that Sanders’ strength in the Granite State isn’t just a flash in the pan. The New York Times reports:
As summer turned to fall, a chilly wind was blowing in New Hampshire for Hillary Rodham Clinton: A new poll on Thursday showed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont surging ahead of Mrs. Clinton with 46 percent of the vote to 30 percent for her.
The poll, by the University of New Hampshire for CNN and WMUR, found that even if Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. entered the race, he would not garner nearly enough support to win or change the dynamic of the race. Just 14 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they would back Mr. Biden. If Mr. Biden does not run, the poll suggests that more of his supporters would back Mrs. Clinton, but not enough to put her over the top.
There does not appear to be a groundswell of support in New Hampshire for a Biden run — 37 percent said he should run, but 32 percent said he should not.
Mr. Sanders has a strong lead over Mrs. Clinton among men and is nearly tied with her for support among women. He also bests her in personal traits: Voters view her as the least honest and least likable of the major candidates.
The University of New Hampshire poll did find that a large majority of primary voters feel that Clinton will win the nomination. If more and more polls show Sanders winning individual states and even competing nationally, that will likely change people’s perceptions. It will certainly change people’s perceptions if Sanders starts winning some early elections. However, if cannabis advocates want Sanders to win, as he has been more vocal on sensible marijuana and Drug War reforms, activists will need to continue working hard to convince people that Sanders deserves their support and that he can win.