New polling released Thursday puts Bernie Sanders ahead of Hillary Clinton in the key voting state of Iowa for the first time, marking his continued and growing popularity among voters in the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The senator from Vermont now has a small edge over Clinton with 41 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him over the former Secretary of State, who polled at 40 percent in the new Quinnipiac survey. Two months ago, Sanders was behind Clinton by 21 points.
Vice President Joe Biden, who has hinted that he is considering entering the race but has yet to make any formal declarations, received 12 percent, with former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley trailing at 3 percent.
"[P]eople said there was no way we could win Iowa.... Our successes in these polls are a clear indication that Bernie's message is resonating with voters," said Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver on Thursday.
The latest poll follows another recent survey showing Sanders ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire, another crucial battleground state.
CNN noted on Thursday that although Clinton still leads Sanders in national polls, similar dynamics were in play in 2008 when President Barack Obama, then a senator, began gaining ground against a seemingly inevitable nominee.
The senator's rise in voter polls began earlier this summer as his populist campaign platform resonated with unexpectedly large crowds. At the same time, Clinton found herself dogged by scandals over email servers used during her time in the Obama administration.
Even if she were to ultimately lose Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton's financial and political power could make her formidable in the states that vote next, especially in the south. But her ratings on key personality questions are giving some Democrats pause. Clinton chose to issue a formal apology this week for some of her email practices, but 30% of Democratic voters responding to the poll said they do not find her honest and trustworthy. Only 4% said the same was true of Sanders and 5% of Biden.
According to Weaver, the latest polling in Iowa is only an indication of where the Sanders' campaign is heading nationally. "The more people hear about Bernie's vision of economic, racial and social justice, the more our support grows," he said.