Poll-averse Bernie Sanders hires former Howard Dean pollster

Story highlights

  • The Sanders campaign defended their decision to hire a pollster
  • Sanders strategist says 'we needed data for targeting'

(CNN)Bernie Sanders, who has recently blasted poll-tested politicians, has hired a pollster of his own as his campaign enters a key stretch before the early nominating contests.

The Sanders campaign defended Monday their decision to hire former Howard Dean pollster Ben Tulchin, just a few days after Sanders knocked other politicians for taking politically convenient positions.
"Bernie has never been interested in polling but we convinced him we needed data for targeting," said Tad Devine, Sanders' top strategist, in a statement. "Now that we are going to do paid media next month, he approved having a pollster to give us the data we need to buy media correctly and target the ads."
    Sanders' top aides, namely Devine, had been pushing for the campaign to hire a pollster, particularly because they wanted to test what aspects of the senator's stump speech were resonating and which aspects weren't.
    But the candidate was resistant. Some aides had started to joke that Sanders was his own pollster.
    Sanders took a veiled shot as Hillary Clinton's reliance on polling during his fiery speech at Iowa's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Saturday. He argued that he has been a consistent vote for liberal causes, but said "some others" had supported the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act -- which then-President Bill Clinton signed into law -- and the Iraq War, which then-Sen. Hillary Clinton voted for.
    Bill Clinton has since said he regretted signing the bill and Clinton has apologized for her vote in favor the war, writing in her latest book that "she got it wrong."