Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has all but eliminated Hillary Clinton’s polling lead among Democratic voters nationwide, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Monday has found.
According to the poll, Sanders for the first time is close to tying Clinton, as 48% of Democratic primary voters picked him as their first choice for president, while 50% picked Clinton.
In a poll last month, noted The Wall Street Journal, Clinton was ahead by nine percentage points, enjoying a 53%-to-44% edge.
However, a majority of states have already held their primary contests, and the Vermont senator’s surge in support likely comes too late for him to overcome Clinton’s big lead in delegates to the summer nominating convention in Philadelphia.
At the same time, the survey suggests that the long and bitter primary campaign has taken a toll on the former senator and secretary of state.
Clinton’s saving grace, noted The Wall Street Journal, is the weakness of her potential Republican opposition. The survey found that GOP frontrunner Donald Trump would have a harder time consolidating his party behind him than she would hers.
Some 38% of Republican primary voters said they couldn’t see themselves supporting Trump, while 21% of Democrats said they couldn’t support Clinton.
In a hypothetical general-election matchup, Clinton outpolls Trump 50% to 39%, the survey found. A Bloomberg poll released late last month found that Clinton leads Trump 54 percent to 36 percent in a contest between the two front-runners.
Sanders’ strong support among Democratic primary voters continued a steady narrowing of the gap between the two candidates since January, when Clinton led by 25 points, 59% to 34%, noted The Wall Street Journal. And it is a far cry from the way the race looked when Sanders began his campaign last year: In June 2015, a Journal/NBC News poll found Clinton leading the Democratic contest by 60 percentage points, 75% to 15%.
Clinton saw a significant decline in support among white men, younger voters and independents, the poll found. White men voting in Democratic primaries prefer Sanders 66% to 32%, up from a 54%-to-41% spread in polls earlier this year.
Among voters ages 18 to 49, Sanders is preferred by 66% to 34% for Clinton. She is the preferred choice among older voters by 27 points, 62% to 35%.
Among independents and Republicans who voted in Democratic contests or plan to, Mr. Sanders is preferred by 69% to 29%. Mrs. Clinton is preferred by Democrats, 59% to 40%.
The poll comes one day before the New York primary, which will be held on Tuesday.