As if Iowa couldn’t look any tighter, things aren’t much different across the country in New Hampshire where a new poll from Monmouth University puts the race in nearly a four-way tie between Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Warren sits back a few percentage points, but the margin of error in this poll would put her in contention.

The latest poll, conducted the first week of January, shows a divided electorate in the Granite State and a wide-open first-in-the-nation primary ripe for a handful of candidates to claim:

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, leads the Democratic field with 20% support among registered New Hampshire Democrats and unaffiliated voters who are likely to participate in the February 2020 Democratic primary, according to a Monmouth Poll published Thursday. He is followed closely by former Vice President Joe Biden with 19%. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont earned 18% support, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had 15%.

“The race remains fairly wide-open. To the extent that New Hampshire voters could take some cues from Iowa, it’s also worth keeping an eye on lower polling candidates like Klobuchar if any of the leading contenders stumble in the earlier Iowa contest,” Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray said.

To put everything in a more digestible format:

  • Pete Buttigieg – 20%
  • Joe Biden – 19%
  • Bernie Sanders – 18%
  • Elizabeth Warren – 15%
  • Amy Klobuchar – 6%
  • Tulsi Gabbard – 4%
  • Tom Steyer – 4%
  • Andrew Yang – 3%
  • Everyone else <1%

Source: Monmouth University Poll conducted Jan. 3-7, with 403 likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire questioned by live telephone operators

The missing candidate? Mike Bloomberg. He missed the deadline for New Hampshire ballot access and isn’t really competing in the early states so his name was not included by Monmouth.

Recent numbers from Iowa show essentially the same three-way tie for the top with Sanders, Buttigieg, and Biden. Any of the three could win one state or the other, or both if New Hampshire decides to follow cues from Iowa.

The loser in this poll, and generally in the early states right now? Joe Biden.

To be tied or slightly trailing in the first two voting states, despite his hefty historical lead in South Carolina, is embarrassing. To make matters worse, there haven’t been any polls out of South Carolina since early December which have made the Iowa and New Hampshire numbers garner more headlines.

The most recent number from South Carolina, released on December 12, showed Biden leading Sanders 27% to 20%, respectively. Between then and now, those numbers may have shifted against Biden somewhat, or may have solidified and improved, we don’t yet know.

If some new numbers come out of South Carolina still showing a solid firewall for Biden, then Iowa and New Hampshire could fall to Bernie or Buttigieg while leaving Biden on track for a win down south. On the other hand, if South Carolina looks to be slipping away, then Biden has some serious trouble ahead. He’s a known quantity, as we’ve stated countless times before, so if he hasn’t locked up his support by now, it could indicate some measurable apprehension on the part of Democrats weary over giving him the baton.

For comparison’s sake, in the prior New Hampshire poll from Monmouth, Buttigieg is on the upswing while Biden lost 6 points:

Compared to Monmouth’s last New Hampshire poll in September, Buttigieg’s support has grown by 10 points (from 10%) and Sanders’ support has increased by 6 points (from 12%). Warren’s support has dropped by 12 points (from 27%) and Biden’s has decreased by 6 points (from 25%).

If Biden lost 5 or 6 points in South Carolina and the others gained, it’s possible that the race is tightening all over the country. There should be some new South Carolina numbers in the next few days since the state hasn’t been polled in over a month.

Will they confirm a losing trend for Biden? Or reaffirm the Palmetto State as his firewall against his progressive rivals?