According to a Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll, Bernie Sanders has taken a lead among Democrats in New Hampshire. The poll, which was conducted between August 7 & 10, has Sanders at 44% to 37% for the former Secretary of State. The margin of error is +/- 4.7%.
The argument could be made that the poll is an aberration. After all, Hillary is still leading by a substantial margin in all other polls and this poll had a relatively small sample size – 442 likely Democratic Primary voters to be exact. Sanders is also not an unknown quantity in New Hampshire as he represents the neighboring Vermont.
Yet there can be little doubt that Hillary’s camp is worried. Her e-mail problem is only getting worse. Hillary’s attorney turned her personal server and thumb drive over to the FBI. It’s not clear whether Hillary did so on her own or if the FBI ordered her to do so. But with two top secret e-mails having been found on her server, it cannot be helpful to her as the public increasingly believes that she is someone who is not broadly perceived as honest and trustworthy. In which case, we may see Sanders gaining on Hillary in other polls. It will be interesting to watch the Iowa polls in particular.
Even without the e-mail and the Clinton Foundation stuff, Hillary has problems with left-wing voters who are skeptical of her newfound opposition to TPP and her recent refusal to answer a question about the Keystone Pipeline. Of course, a lot of left-wing distrust for Hillary dates all the way back to her initial support for the war in Iraq which gave Barack Obama the opening he needed. Yet it is worth remembering that Hillary beat Obama in NH in 2008. No doubt she would like to position herself as the underdog and the new comeback kid, but she lacks her husband’s charm and ability to work a room.
Not that Sanders is awash in charm and charisma by any means, but what you see is what you get. If Sanders says something, even if it is nonsense, he means what he says. The same simply cannot be said of Hillary. In 2008, it initially appeared there was no alternative to Hillary for Democratic voters. When Democratic voters found they a had an alternative, they chose it. Will history repeat itself in 2016? If it does, Republican presidential hopefuls will once again have to shift their focus in mid-campaign and hope that history doesn’t repeat itself.