Polls released today show Bernie Sanders up 3% in Iowa and winning by a whopping 31% in New Hampshire. In Iowa, the polls are about to be irrelevant as Iowans trudge out in the Midwest winter (but at least the snow should hold off) to make their voices heard on who should be the next leader of the free world. (Hawkeye Democratic voters, find your Iowa Caucus location here, GOP voters look here.) The New Hampshire primary will be up next and it will be very interesting to see how the Iowa caucus results impact Granite State voters, if at all.
The Quinnipiac Iowa poll follows on the heels of the very respected Des Moines Register poll. The DMR poll, released on Saturday morning, had Hillary Clinton up 3% over her Democratic challenger. It should be noted that the Quinnipiac poll included questions after the Friday announcement that 22 emails on Hillary Clinton’s private server contained top-secret information that was so sensitive that no part of the emails could be released to the public. Even Bernie Sanders has now acknowledged that the ongoing email scandal is a very serious matter, so it will be interesting if Democratic primary voters will agree.
Both of the recent Iowa polls are within the margin of error, illustrating that the caucus winner will depend upon turnout. If there is a big turnout, like the one that won the day for Barack Obama in 2004, then Bernie Sanders will likely win. If the turnout number is simply ordinary, the Democratic frontrunner should win the day. Senator Clinton wins with older voters that are more likely to vote, while Senator Sanders carries a big lead among younger voters who may need an inspiring candidate to get politically active. Either way, Iowa should be a very close election.
In New Hampshire, recent polls are showing Bernie Sanders winning by bigger and bigger margins. The University of Massachusetts-Lowell/7 News survey has Senator Sanders soundly defeating Hillary Clinton 61% to 30%. This poll follows on the heels of the Boston Herald/FPU poll showing the anti-establishment Sanders defeating Clinton by 20% and the CNN/WMUR poll reflecting a big 23% lead for the Vermont Senator. In New Hampshire, Senator Sanders is bolstered by the fact that independents can vote in the Democratic primary, although he is now experiencing leads across virtually all demographics in the state with the motto “Live Free or Die.”
Hillary Clinton’s unique establishment political advantages provide her the ability to potentially win the Democratic nomination even if she doesn’t win Iowa or New Hampshire, but Senator Sanders will be in a great position to pull off one of the greatest, if not the greatest, political upsets in history if he can win both of the early states. The media loves the political horse race, but these polls will mean less and less as voters will actually be caucusing and casting their ballots. We shall soon see if Democratic voters choose a candidate supporting significant changes, including on marijuana legalization and reforming the Drug War, or support more incremental changes favored by the political status quo.