Bernie Sanders is leading Hillary Clinton in two key early states of the Democratic presidential primary, a pair of polls released Tuesday show.
Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, has pushed into the lead in Iowa less than three weeks before the caucus there. Sanders has a five-point lead over Clinton, winning support from 49 percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus participants, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.
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Clinton, long perceived to be the frontrunner, trails Sanders with 44 percent of the vote, while former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley maintains just 4 percent support.
Previous polling released last month had Clinton leading Sanders by over 10 percentage points in Iowa, indicating that the Vermont liberal has gained steam in recent weeks.
Iowa Democrats rate Sanders as more honest and attune to their needs, problems, and values than Clinton. Sanders also enjoys a significantly higher favorability score among voters in the state, with 87 percent of likely caucus participants viewing him favorably and 74 percent saying so of Clinton. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of Democrats in the state have an unfavorable opinion of the former secretary of state.
Sanders has also extended his lead over Clinton in New Hampshire, the second state to vote in the primary. Sanders leads Clinton by 14 percentage points among voters in the state, according to a Monmouth University poll unveiled Tuesday. The Vermont lawmaker has eroded Clinton’s November lead and currently holds support from 53 percent of likely New Hampshire primary voters to Clinton’s 39 percent. O’Malley maintains only 5 percent of the vote.
Sanders leads Clinton among both younger and older demographics and has also overtaken her among female voters in the state.
Both Sanders and Clinton receive favorability scores in New Hampshire similar to those they earn in Iowa.
Clinton’s critiques of Sanders on the campaign trail have intensified in recent days as the race narrows. Meanwhile, Sanders has responded to Clinton’s increasing attacks by saying that her campaign is "in serious trouble."
"I think a candidate who was originally thought to be the anointed candidate, the inevitable candidate, is now locked in a very difficult race here in Iowa and in New Hampshire," Sanders told reporters in Iowa Monday. "So obviously in that scenario what people do is start attacking. Suddenly Bernie Sanders is not a nice guy. That is not surprising when you have a Clinton campaign that is now in trouble and now understands that they can lose."