MANCHESTER, N.H. – A new survey in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House puts former Vice President Joe Biden atop the extremely large field of Democratic presidential candidates, with one-time longshot Pete Buttigieg now statistically tied with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for second place.
Biden has the support of 20 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll released Tuesday. The public opinion survey was conducted entirely after the former vice president’s early Thursday morning launch of his 2020 campaign for the White House.
Sanders, the independent senator from neighboring Vermont, stood at just over 12 percent. Sanders, who’s running a second straight time for the Democratic nomination, crushed eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire’s 2016 Democratic primary and sees the state as critical for his 2020 bid.
But Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran and two-term mayor of South Bend, Indiana who would become the nation’s first gay president if he makes it to the White House, has soared in polling and media attention the past several weeks. He grabbed the support of just under 12 percent of those questioned in the poll. Taking into account the survey’s sampling error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points for likely Democratic primary voters, Sanders and Buttigieg were all knotted up.
“Buttigieg has become the new young force in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary as he positions himself in the top tier against better known Democrats like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders,” Suffolk University Political Research Center director David Paleologos told Fox News.
“Buttigieg leads Biden, Sanders, and every other Democrat among LGBTQ households – an important demographic for grassroots support and a network of generous and loyal donors,” the pollster said.
The poll indicates it's not just name recognition feeding Biden's standing in the survey. Thirty-five percent of those questioned said Biden had the best chance of beating GOP President Trump in 2020. Sanders was a distant second at 13 percent.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of neighboring Massachusetts stood at 8 percent support in the poll, with Sen. Kamala Harris of California at 6 percent, and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas at 3 percent. Everyone else registered at 1 percent or less in the survey, with nearly 27 percent undecided.
Sanders stood at 30 percent among likely Democratic primary voters in the Granite State, with Biden at 18 percent and Buttigieg at 15 percent. A Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll released in early April put Biden on top at 23 percent, with Sanders at 16 percent and Buttigieg at 11 percent.
There’s no surprise that results vary among the different polls. With more than nine months to go until voting begins in the primary and caucus calendar, it’s still very early in the 2020 presidential election cycle. Expect the primary horserace numbers to continue to shift over the coming months.
New Hampshire’s primary electorate is also traditionally known for including late deciders.
Four years ago, Clinton topped the polls in the Democratic primary race here, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ahead of the field in the GOP primary battle. At the time both Sanders and Trump – who ended up crushing the competition in the 2016 GOP primary in New Hampshire – were considered longshots.
The release of the Suffolk University poll came as a new national survey by CNN also indicated Biden far ahead of the rest of the Democratic field.
The poll, conducted by SSRS after Biden’s announcement, showed 39 percent of Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents said the former vice president was their top choice for the nomination. That’s up 11 percentage points from their March poll.
Sanders was a distant second in the CNN poll, at 15 percent support, with Warren in third at 8 percent.
Name recognition often weighs heavy in the results of national polling in the early phases of a presidential election cycle. While national surveys grab attention, state polls are considered more noteworthy as the race for the presidential nomination is a battle for the states and their delegates.