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Clinton's Lead Over Sanders Shrinking Nationwide: Poll

New survey shows Clinton losing frontrunner status as Vermont senator gains among crucial voting blocs

The race is getting closer and closer. (Photo: AP)

With just three weeks left before the Iowa presidential caucuses, voters throughout the country are rapidly turning away from Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and throwing their support behind once-dark horse Bernie Sanders, new polling shows.

A New York Times/CBS survey released Tuesday night found that Clinton's nationwide lead over Sanders continues to fade, with the former Secretary of State receiving 48 percent of prospective voters' support to the Vermont senator's 41 percent. Just a month ago, she had 20 percentage points on him nationally.

Other recent surveys found that Sanders has a five-point lead in Iowa and a 14-point lead in New Hampshire, while his support among women voters continues to grow.

The news also follows continuing reports of the enthusiastic crowds that greet Sanders at his campaign stops, including when he shares the stage with other Democratic candidates.

And it's making Clinton's team worried.

The Times reports:

Mr. Sanders’s shifting fortunes underscore the unsettled state of the presidential race in both parties with just three weeks before the Iowa caucuses. Previous contests have seen candidates rise and fall in the weeks before the first votes are cast, and national polls at this stage of the race are not necessarily predictive of the final outcome of the monthslong nominating battle. But Mr. Sanders’s surge has clearly unnerved the Clinton campaign, and she is responding aggressively.

[....] Mrs. Clinton is no longer treating Mr. Sanders as a distant rival who can be left unmentioned as she looks toward the general election.

And while a majority of Democrats surveyed in Tuesday's poll say they believe Clinton will still be nominated, other observers say the road is being paved for a dramatic primary.

The New Yorker's John Cassidy writes:

In Iowa on Monday, Senator Bernie Sanders said that his rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign was in serious trouble, and claimed that this explained why she was attacking him on such issues as gun control and health care. “I think a candidate who was originally thought to be the anointed candidate, to be the inevitable candidate, is now locked in a very difficult race,” Sanders told reporters. “Obviously, what people in that scenario do is start attacking. . . . That is not surprising when you have a Clinton campaign that is now in trouble and now understands that they can lose.”

[....] Rather than trying to say who is leading, the safest thing to conclude is that, fewer than three weeks before voting day, the Democratic race in Iowa is now neck and neck.

A win for Sanders in Iowa would give him "significant momentum" for the New Hampshire primary on February 9, the Times said. Sanders also has widespread support from voters under 45—a significant demographic in the general election—who favor him by a 2-to-1 ratio. He is also backed by 55 percent of liberals, versus the 51 percent who support Clinton.

The poll surveyed 389 Democratic primary voters and 442 Republican primary voters from January 7-10. The margin of error is plus or minus 6 points for both parties.

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