Poll Shows Sanders Has the Edge in New Hampshire as Buttigieg Gains Ground

Suffolk University/Boston Globe survey

Likely Democratic voters say Deval Patrick jumped in too late

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads a knot of leading Democratic hopefuls in New Hampshire, with the uppermost four candidates’ poll results falling within the margin of error, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of likely Democratic voters in the Granite State. However, 21 percent of these voters remain undecided.

Sanders (16 percent) led Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (14 percent), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (13 percent), and former Vice President Joe Biden (12 percent) with all other candidates in single digits. Buttigieg was the only candidate of the top four who has gained, adding 7 points since the previous Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll taken in August. The most dramatic drop was Biden, who lost 9 points, while Sanders dropped a point, and Warren did not change.

With Buttigieg and Biden going in opposite directions, older voters who are not embracing the progressive policies advocated by Sanders and Warren have rotated from Biden to Buttigieg, according to the poll. Among voters over 65 years of age, Biden dropped from 28 percent in August to 12 percent today, while Buttigieg has vaulted from 2 percent to 17 percent and now leads the entire field among older voters.

Voter resolve

While a majority of voters (53 percent) say they could still change their minds, most Democrats who favor Sanders (64 percent) say their minds made are up, compared to 37 percent of Biden voters, 36 percent of Warren supporters and 30 percent who prefer Buttigieg.

Health care

A majority (54 percent) of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters said they believe the best approach to the health care issue would be to implement reforms to the Affordable Care Act, while 32 percent would prefer to scrap the current health care system and replace it with Medicare-for-All.


Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s late entrance to the Democratic field received a cool initial response from New Hampshire Democratic voters, with only 1 percent saying they would vote for him in the primary. Fifty percent said they won’t consider him because he waited too long to enter the race, while 43 percent said they are still open to considering him. The survey did not ask about former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced Nov. 24 but who was not certified for nor will his name appear on the New Hampshire ballot.

Acceptance of differences

Buttigieg, who leads in the Real Clear Politics averages in Iowa, would be the first openly gay nominee of either major political party. Asked if the country is ready for an openly gay president, 62 percent New Hampshire Democratic voters said “yes” and 28 percent “no.”

“It was the Democratic party that nominated candidates who became the first Catholic president in 1960 and the first African-American president in 2008,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “These poll results show that Democrats are open to the possibility of Buttigieg in 2020.”

Democratic debate

Among the 30 percent of respondents who watched the televised MSNBC/Washington Post Democratic debate last week, Buttigieg (23 percent) was seen as performing better than expected, and Biden (44 percent) as performing worse than expected. The debate raised the issue of whether women candidates for president are held to a higher standard than men, and 45 percent of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters said that this is true, while 39 percent said that male and female candidates are held to the same standard, and 8 percent said men are the ones held to a higher standard. Fifty-five percent of women voters said women are held to a higher standard.


The survey of 500 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters was conducted Nov. 21 – Nov. 24 using live telephone interviews of households where respondents indicated they intended to participate in the February 2020 New Hampshire Democratic primary. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, dpaleologos@suffolk.edu.