Sen. Bernie Sanders has squeaked past Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in Iowa – and both he and Vice President Joe Biden outscore the scandal-plagued Clinton on honesty and empathy, a new poll shows.
According to the Quinnipiac University survey, Vermont's Sanders and Clinton are in a statistical dead heat. He is the choice of 41 percent of likely Democratic caucus voters in Iowa, while 40 percent back Clinton and 12 percent support Biden – who's yet to announce if he'll even launch a campaign.
In July, the pollster showed Clinton with a commanding 52 percent support among Democrats in the first-voting state; Sanders lagged at 33 percent and Biden registered a barely-there 7 percent.
In favorability, Sanders, with 78 percent, and the vice president, with 79 percent, both outscore Clinton's 76 percent rating. The former secretary of state, however, gets her best marks for leadership, at 92 percent, and temperament to handle an international crisis, at 89 percent, the poll finds.
"Sen. Bernie Sanders has become the Eugene McCarthy of 2016," Peter Brown, assistant director of the poll, says in a statement. "He is the candidate of the Democratic left, against his own party’s bosses and their prized presidential candidate, Secretary Hillary Clinton."
Brown added, however, that Biden "still may be a winner in the zero-sum game of presidential primary politics because it further increases questions about Clinton’s electability."
The latest numbers represent a drop for Clinton, who continues to confront questions about — and has now begun to apologize for — her use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state in the Obama administration
The new survey shows a wide gender gap among Democrats, with Sanders leading Clinton 49 percent to 28 percent among men, while Clinton leads Sanders 49 percent to 35 percent among women.
"Senator Bernie Sanders has become the Eugene McCarthy of 2016,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the poll, said in a statement referencing the late senator who came on strong just before the 1968 primaries. “Sanders has seized the momentum by offering a message more in line with disproportionately liberal primary and caucus voters.”
The survey was conducted Aug. 27 to Sept. 8 and included 832 likely Iowa Democratic caucus participants. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points
Information from Bloomberg was used in this report.
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