- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2015

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a 33-point lead over Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont in a new national poll on the 2016 Democratic presidential field, with nearly three-quarters of Democrats reporting a favorable opinion of Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton received 59 percent support in the national Monmouth University poll released this week, compared to 26 percent for Mr. Sanders and 4 percent for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

In October, the results were similar. Without Vice President Joseph R. Biden in the race, Mrs. Clinton had been at 57 percent, Mr. Sanders was at 24 percent, and Mr. O’Malley was at 1 percent.

“Clinton successfully ran the gauntlet this fall, appearing before the Benghazi committee and outlasting the specter of a Biden candidacy. She really hasn’t lost ground since then,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

Seventy-three percent of Democrats said they have a favorable opinion of Mrs. Clinton, compared to 15 percent with an unfavorable opinion. Mr. Sanders had a 59 percent/16 percent split, and Mr. O’Malley had an 18 percent/18 percent split, with 63 percent of Democrats having no opinion of him.

The top issue for Democratic voters is the economy and jobs (27 percent first choice/19 percent second choice), followed by national security and terrorism (20 percent first choice/16 percent second choice) and education (15 percent first choice/17 percent second choice).

A Monmouth poll released earlier this week showed that for Republicans, national security and terrorism is the top issue (39 percent first choice/18 percent second choice), followed by the economy and jobs (19 percent first choice/22 percent second choice).

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