Bernie Sanders now leads Hillary Clinton among likely Iowa Democratic Caucus participants, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. With the Iowa caucuses less than three weeks away, 49 percent of likely caucus-goers support Sanders and 44 percent support Clinton.
The latest poll reflects a major shift in momentum in Iowa — Clinton led 51-40 in the last Quinnipiac poll from Dec. 15. The Clinton campaign now faces real concerns that it could lose both in Iowa and in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary. Sanders now holds a substantial 14-point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire, according to a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday.
The latest Quinnipiac and Monmouth polls paint a slightly more optimistic picture for Sanders than the Wall Street Journal/NBC/Marist survey published Sunday, which found Sanders trailing Clinton by 3 points in Iowa and leading Clinton by only 4 points in New Hampshire. The gap between the candidates in both states fell within WSJ/NBC/Marist poll's margin of error.
Clinton's latest campaign ad paints her as the candidate best suited to defeat Republicans in the fall, needling Sanders for his perceived lack of electability in a general election, a lingering area of vulnerability for the Vermont senator. Despite Sanders new lead in the polls, concerns about his electability are still on the minds of Iowa Democrats: just 68 percent of likely caucus-goers think he would have a good chance of winning in November, compared with 85 percent for Clinton.
Sanders claims Clinton's electability narrative is false, pointing to another Quinnipiac poll from last month that showed him posting better numbers than Clinton in a hypothetical matchup with Donald Trump. "Look at which candidate is doing better against Donald Trump," Sanders said at an Iowa campaign event. "Look at the last national poll and you find that Bernie Sanders is beating Donald Trump by 13 points, Hillary Clinton by seven points.”
However, as the Washington Post points out, that same poll showed Sanders losing to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, while Clinton beat Rubio and tied Cruz.
As the race in Iowa tightens, Clinton has attacked Sanders on his gun control record, pointing to his 2005 vote to shield gunmakers from lawsuits when their products are used in crimes. “When it really mattered, Senator Sanders voted with the gun lobby, and I voted against the gun lobby,” Clinton told MSNBC's Chris Matthews last week.