In most media coverage, it appears as though Hillary Clinton has the Democratic nomination locked up with no questions asked. However, an examination of polling date in December tells a different story. Clinton still leads in Iowa, though sometimes by less than ten points, and the lead in New Hampshire has changed hands several times with her closest challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Report from Politico:
There’s little doubt that Clinton is outpacing the insurgent Vermont senator in Iowa: It’s been four months since Sanders led Clinton in a reliable poll of likely or potential Democratic caucus-goers here. But it’s also been nearly a month since the most recent poll was conducted — a result of pollsters staying out of the field as Iowa voters were focused more on the holidays than on politics.
And while the former secretary of state has led in the past 14 polls conducted by live telephone interviewers, there is another caveat that could give the Clinton campaign pause: In those 14 polls, the only two that show her with a lead of less than 10 points were from The Des Moines Register and legendary Iowa pollster J. Ann Selzer.
Selzer’s reputation for accuracy is well-earned: Her final polls in the 2014 Senate race, the 2012 general election and GOP caucuses, and the 2008 caucuses in both parties were famously predictive of the eventual results. An October survey from Selzer, which was commissioned by Bloomberg Politics and the Register, showed Clinton with a 7-point lead. In December, Clinton’s lead had inched up to 9 points, 48 percent to 39 percent — significant, but hardly dominant. [Emphasis added]
Iowa can be very uncertain until the day voting begins. Candidates trailing just days before have come up with surging victories. In this case, if Sanders hovers within 10 points according to many polls, he’s well within the Iowa striking distance if enough Democratic voters turn on Mrs. Clinton.
In New Hampshire, the polls show a very open race with Sanders leading in two out of the last three polls at the time of writing. There hasn’t been much reporting on this in major media outlets, but clearly it must be giving the Clinton campaign some reason for concern. I am very eager to see some new polls come out to understand how New Hampshire is starting to shape up on the Democratic side in the new year.
There has been no new polling in January but I expect there should be updated polling by the end of the week which may give us a better idea of where things stand after the holidays.