Hillary Clinton is far ahead of the pack in a recent poll of Democratic and Democratic-leaning independent voters, with 59 percent of those voters saying they would vote for the former secretary of state in the 2016 presidential primaries and caucuses, according to a national poll from Suffolk University/USA TODAY.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders placed a distant second as the choice of 14 percent of the Democrats and independents responding to the national poll, followed by Vice President Joe Biden, with 8 percent. Fewer than 2 percent of these voters would choose the other declared Democrats: former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Sixteen percent of Democratic voters remain undecided with the first presidential caucuses and primaries six months away.

“Bernie Sanders draws large crowds and polls well with his New Hampshire next-door neighbors, but Democratic voters appear to be too pragmatic to pin their hopes on him,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “Demographically, Clinton carried every region of the country, age group, and income level. Clinton even bested Sanders 55 percent to 21 percent among those who described themselves as ‘liberal’ or ‘very liberal’—the progressive voters whom Sanders must win. All-in-all the upcoming Democratic primaries and caucuses are looking to be dominated by Clinton.”

In a glimpse at what the 2016 general election might look like, the Suffolk University/USA TODAY poll presented voters with matchups between Clinton and the top-polling Republican candidates. Clinton still leads, but with much closer margins, especially against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

  • Clinton, 46 percent—Bush 42 percent
  • Clinton, 48 percent—Scott Walker 37 percent
  • Clinton, 49 percent—Ben Carson 36 percent
  • Clinton, 48 percent—Rand Paul 38 percent
  • Clinton, 49 percent—Mike Huckabee 40 percent
  • Clinton, 46 percent—Marco Rubio 40 percent
  • Clinton, 51 percent—Donald Trump 34 percent

“Even if she cruises through the primaries, the general election is no sure bet for Clinton,” said Paleologos. “She doesn’t poll above the 50 percent threshold against anyone but Donald Trump.”

Clinton email

Clinton’s use of a private email server while working at the State Department is significant for 38 percent of respondents, who say the issue matters a lot in their voting decision; the same percentage say that the email issue makes them less likely to vote for her. Forty-three percent said the issue would not affect their vote, and among Democratic primary voters, 59 percent said it makes no difference.

Social issues

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on same-sex marriage and Obamacare, 51 percent of voters nationwide said that states should allow same sex marriages in their jurisdictions, while 33 percent said these marriages should be blocked. And 52 percent of likely voters said state officials should take steps to improve Obamacare and end efforts to repeal it, while 36 percent said that states should attempt to repeal it if it is considered in the best interest of their state.


The Suffolk University/USA TODAY survey was conducted via landline and cell phone. The field of 1,000 adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia was conducted Thursday, July 9, through Sunday, July 12. The margin of error overall is +/-3 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence. For the subset of 434 likely Democratic primary/caucus voters the margin of error is +/-4.70 percentage points. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.