Sanders within 8 points of Hillary in New Hampshire

Baseball great Satchel Paige once noted, "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you." In Hillary Clinton's case, that "something" is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who has crept within 8 points of the "inevitable" Democratic nominee in New Hampshire.

A new WMUR/CNN poll shows Hillary Clinton getting the support of 43% likely voters while the socialist Sanders garnering 35%. 

According to the poll, Vice President Joe Biden was the choice of 8 percent, while former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley drew 2 percent and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee were each the choice of 1 percent.

A WMUR Granite State Poll released in May showed Clinton leading Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren 51 to 20 percent, with Sanders at 13 percent. Warren, who has repeatedly insisted she will not run for president, was not included in the new poll. A year ago, Clinton led Sanders, 59 percent to 5 percent.

The new poll shows that Clinton still has a strong favorability rating, with 74 percent of those polled viewing her favorably and 19 percent viewing her unfavorably. She also leads Sanders in several issue-related categories.

But Clinton is also the candidate who most likely voters say is the least honest, with 28 percent putting her in that category, as compared to only 2 percent for Sanders, while 60 percent of the Democratic primary voters said they did not know.

Sanders has seen a big increase in the number of likely voters who view him favorably. It is now up to 66 percent, while only 11 percent view him unfavorably. The two candidates’ net favorability rating is the same, at 55 percent.

UNH political science professor Andrew Smith, executive director of the Survey Center, attributed Sanders’ surge primarily to the exit of Warren from the discussion.

“Hillary Clinton’s early numbers had been higher than they reasonably could have been expected to remain,” Smith said. “Historically, New Hampshire has had about 40 percent of the Democratic voters be progressive voters. That has been the case going back to 1968 with Eugene McCarthy.

Is Elizabeth Warren kicking herself right about now? Certainly the pressure on her to run from the left will only intensify. Even die hard liberals know that Sanders is unelectable and while it is late in the game (it would take Warren months to mount a serious nationwide challenge to Clinton), if Hillary's numbers continue to tank, a Warren candidacy cannot be ruled out.

One big problem for Sanders in New Hampshire's open primary is that Clinton is going to get at least some crossover votes from independents and Republicans while Sanders has dismal numbers with both groups. But he doesn't have to win the primary outright to remain viable. Keeping Clinton below 50% would be a moral victory and allow him to move on to later primaries.

O'Malley would appear dead in the water, despite some very favorable national press in the last couple of weeks. He excites no one and few are listening. 

These numbers may force Clinton to tack further left, which is good news for GOP candidates in 2016.

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