- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has edged ahead of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination in the early caucus state of Iowa and erased a 19-point deficit from just two months ago, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday.

Mr. Sanders was the choice of 41 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers, followed by Mrs. Clinton at 40 percent and 12 percent for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has not yet announced his 2016 intentions.

“Sen. Bernie Sanders has become the Eugene McCarthy of 2016,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “He is the candidate of the Democratic left, against his own party’s bosses and their prized presidential candidate, Secretary Hillary Clinton. Sanders has seized the momentum by offering a message more in line with disproportionately liberal primary and caucus voters.”

Mr. Sanders led Mrs. Clinton, 59 percent to 29 percent, among self-described “very” liberal voters, with Mr. Biden at 7 percent. He also led Mrs. Clinton 49 percent to 28 percent among men, with 16 percent for Mr. Biden, while Mrs. Clinton led Mr. Sanders 49 percent to 35 percent among women, with 9 percent for Mr. Biden.

Both Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden had better favorability and honesty ratings than Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Sanders had a 78 percent/6 percent favorable/unfavorable split and Mr. Biden had a 79 percent/9 percent split, compared to a 76 percent/20 percent split for Mrs. Clinton.

Ninety-one percent said Mr. Biden is honest and trustworthy, compared to 86 percent who said the same of Mr. Sanders and 64 percent who said the same of Mrs. Clinton, who has been dogged by questions over her decision to set up a private email system as secretary of state, rather than use a standard government account.

SEE ALSO: Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton by 9 points in N.H. poll, catching up in Iowa

Eighty-five percent also said Mr. Sanders cares about voters’ needs and problems, compared to 84 percent who said the same of Mr. Biden and 78 percent who said the same of Mrs. Clinton.

“[U]nlike the late Sen. McCarthy, who came on strong just before the 1968 primaries, Sen. Sanders has seized the momentum, five months before voting begins in Iowa. History will eventually tell us whether he has made such a large move too soon,” Mr. Brown said.

“Although Vice President Joseph Biden received only 12 percent of the vote in this poll of likely Democratic Caucus-goers, he still may be a winner in the zero-sum game of presidential primary politics because it further increases questions about Clinton’s electability,” he said.

Mrs. Clinton did do better on the question of leadership qualities and ability to handle an international crisis. Ninety-two percent said she had strong leadership qualities and 89 percent said she has the right temperament and personality to handle an international crisis.

Seventy-six percent said Mr. Sanders has strong leadership qualities, compared to 81 percent for Mr. Biden. Sixty-five percent said Mr. Sanders had the right temperament to handle an international crisis, compared to 81 percent for Mr. Biden.

The survey of 832 likely Democratic caucus-goers was taken from Aug. 27 to Sept. 8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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