A new poll unveiled Thursday finds populist Bernie Sanders squeezing past Hillary Clinton for the first time as the preferred choice among likely Iowa caucus-goers.
The survey by Quinnipiac University shows the Vermont lawmaker receiving 41 percent, while Clinton garnered 40 percent. The figures put Sanders’ lead well within the poll’s 3.4 percent margin of error, but the numbers serve as another indication of how tight the Democratic primary has become, especially in Iowa where Clinton has long maintained an advantage.
The poll found another 12 percent of voters would support Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to decide if he will enter the 2016 race. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley received 3 percent, and the same number were undecided.
While many could view the survey as the latest sign Clinton’s campaign is flailing, the timing of the poll could prove crucial.
The study was conducted between August 27 and September 8. That was the same day the former secretary of State told ABC News that using a personal email account while in office was a mistake and that she is sorry for it.
“I do think I could have and should have done a better job answering questions earlier. I really didn’t perhaps appreciate the need to do that,” Clinton said. “What I had done was allowed, it was above board. But in retrospect, as I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should have used two accounts. One for personal, one for work-related emails. That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility.”
The interview marked the first time she apologized for her unique email arrangement. Questions over Clinton’s use of a private server have dogged her candidacy since she entered the White House race earlier this year.
Republicans have used the controversy surrounding the server to paint Clinton as untrustworthy and unfit to serve in the White House.
Indeed, Thursday’s poll found that while Clinton is still liked among Democratic voters who believe she would make a good leader, Sanders fares better on the question of trustworthiness.
The Quinnipiac poll also closed before Clinton gave a muscular foreign policy speech at the Brookings Institution on, among other things, the Iran nuclear deal.
“We should anticipate that Iran will test the next president,” she said. “They'll want to see how far they can bend the rules.”
“That won't work if I'm in the White House. I'll hold the line against Iranian noncompliance,” Clinton added.
On the softer side of things, Clinton’s interview on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” will air Thursday afternoon. The appearance will give her a chance to connect with female voters who are the backbone of her support.
Taken together, the various actions could put Clinton back atop the polls, at least in Iowa, and help her gain back ground she lost to Sanders in New Hampshire as well.
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The chart “shows a clear historical downtrend, with rates falling about 1% every 60 years to near zero today,” says Bloomberg’s Aaron Brown. “Rates do tend to revert to a mean, but that mean seems to be declining.”
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