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Sanders Closes Huge Gap to Tie Clinton Nationally

Sanders has gained 31 points nationally since December, according to a new poll, bringing him to a dead heat with Clinton.
Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA

Hillary Clinton has another near-tie on her hands.

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows her in a virtual dead heat with Sen. Bernie Sanders nationally, at 44-42 percent (well within the poll's 2.9 percent margin of error). The poll represents a major slide for Clinton over the last few months; she held a 31-point lead against Sanders in the same poll back in December.

The poll was conducted from Feb. 2-4 and is the first national survey of the race since Clinton narrowly defeated Sanders in Iowa, a contest that he has referred to as "a virtual tie." The Iowa race proved Sanders' ability to turn the excitement around his candidacy and large attendance at rallies into actual votes.


The New Hampshire primary, in which Sanders has a sizeable lead, is just five days away and could provide another boost to his campaign.

Related: Underdog Clinton Goes After Sanders in New Hampshire Debate

The new national poll also shows Sanders performing more strongly than Clinton in the general election -- though that contest is months away and much could change before November. The survey shows Sanders defeating Donald Trump by 10 points, Sen. Ted Cruz by four points and tying with Sen. Marco Rubio, who is also gaining ground nationally as establishment Republicans try to coalesce around him as a Cruz or Trump alternative.

Clinton, by contrast, would defeat Trump by 5 points, according to the poll, but ties with Cruz and loses to Rubio by 7 points.

On the Republican side, Trump continues to lead all comers with 31 percent of the national vote. Cruz earned 22 percent support and Rubio placed third with 19 percent.

The results of the poll are not positive for Clinton, who has increasingly gone on the offensive against Sanders after her near-loss in Iowa. And the former secretary of state will clearly have trouble next Tuesday in New Hampshire, where her campaign is already downplaying expectations. The Clinton camp, sensing Sanders's increasing hold in nationwide polls, has recently stepped up its emails calling on supporters to contribute small donations.

"We're in a tough fight to win this nomination — we're facing an uphill battle in New Hampshire, and Senator Sanders is outraising and outspending us," the campaign wrote in an email Thursday night, shortly before the two candidates went head-to-head at a debate in New Hampshire.


In mid-January, Sanders scored his first lead over Clinton in the Iowa caucus, but ultimately lost by the slimmest of margins. The Sanders campaign continues to investigate the results of that contest, following allegations of miscounted votes and even fraud, but the candidate downplayed the significance of those concerns at last night's debate.

Related: Sanders Wants an Audit of Iowa Results, But It Likely Won't Change Anything

Sanders, who is 74 years old, also garnered an extraordinary 84 percent of the youth Democratic vote in Iowa compared with Clinton's 14 percent. Support for Sanders, especially among the millennial age bracket, has surged since he announced his candidacy last May. He has received an unprecedented 3 million individual financial contributions — a fact he proudly touts on the stump.

The trend of the week may not be in Clinton's favor. But it's important to keep in mind that the United States does not vote for presidential nominees in a national contest, but rather state-by-state, and Clinton holds significant leads in upcoming primaries in Florida and South Carolina that could reinvigorate her supporters. She also bested Sanders in Iowa among voters over the age of 45, who made up more than 60 percent of voters in the caucuses.

Liz Fields contributed to this story.

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