This far out from November, the reliability of general election polls are questionable, to say the least.
But with Hillary Clinton basing the bulk of her attacks on Bernie Sanders on the premise of electability, a new poll of voters in New Hampshire, a swing state, gives the Vermont senator’s supporters a comeback.
In hypothetical general election matchups, Sanders outperforms the former secretary of state, according to a CNN/WMUR poll released Wednesday, beating five different Republican candidates by double digits.
Against Donald Trump, likely New Hampshire voter choose Sanders 57 percent to 34 percent. Against Ted Cruz, Sanders leads 56 percent to 33 percent. The Vermont senator also leads Republicans Marco Rubio 55 percent to 37 percent, Chris Christie 57 percent to 34 percent, and John Kasich 54 percent to 33 percent.
While New Hampshire voters also prefer Clinton over the GOP’s outsider candidates, hypothetical matchups against Rubio and Kasich yield tight races.
The former secretary of state would beat Trump 48 percent to 39 percent, according to the poll. She leads Cruz 47 percent to 41 percent. And Clinton leads Christie 45 percent to 42 percent.
However, New Hampshire voters are pretty much evenly split when it comes down to the other Republican candidates. Rubio leads Clinton 45 percent to 44 percent among New Hampshire voters, while she and Kasich are tied at 43 percent.
The poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center from January 13 to 18, comes on the back of a primary poll Wednesday showing the insurgent democratic socialist leading Clinton by 27 points in the Granite State.
Despite Sanders’ surge — or perhaps because of Sanders’ surge — Clinton has begun emphasizing the importance of winning the general election.
“We need a Democratic nominee who will be able to beat the Republicans and get the job done for Americans,’’ she said during a recent stop in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The Sanders campaign has tried to flip that argument, pointing to a national general election poll that showed Sanders beating Trump by a wider margin than Clinton.
“If people are concerned about electability — and Democrats should be very concerned because we certainly don’t want to see some right-wing extremist in the White House — Bernie Sanders is the candidate,’’ Sanders said on ABC News’ This Week.
One large caveat to this entire debate is that it is still roughly 10 months until the general election.
A FiveThirtyEight article in November looked at general election polls a year before the actual election date for 12 of the last 14 presidential elections. They found an average error margin of 10.6 percentage points.