Hillary Clinton edges Bernie Sanders in latest New Hampshire poll

Story highlights

  • The latest Monmouth University Poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders 48%-45%
  • Monmouth poll director Patrick Murray said traditional Democratic voters are coming home to Clinton

Washington (CNN)With the Democratic presidential field narrowed to three, Hillary Clinton is back at the front of the pack in New Hampshire -- but has just a 3-point lead.

A new Monmouth University poll of New Hampshire Democrats released Tuesday shows Clinton edging out Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders if the election were held today, 48%-45%. A September survey by Monmouth showed Sanders leading Clinton 43%-36%, but it also included Vice President Joe Biden, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb in the survey -- all three of whom have since announced that they were either dropping out or not running.
The new numbers come as Sanders prepares to formally file for president in New Hampshire on Thursday. The state, adjacent to his Vermont home base, was one of the first to register the summer surge for Sanders and expose signs of weakness for Clinton. A Suffolk University/Boston Globe survey taken October 14-15 was the first since August to show Clinton re-taking the lead in New Hampshire.
    Tad Devine, Sanders' chief strategist, attributed the new numbers to the Clinton campaign having spent "$4 million of unanswered media, which is about to change."
    The Sanders campaign launched its first campaign ad Monday, an intro spot to Sanders, and announced plans to spend $2 million on it through the start of November.
    "I think we begin this next stage of the campaign in real solid shape and I would not trade positions in New Hampshire with her," Devine said Tuesday.
    But Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said that some key Democratic groups that had been testing out Sanders are coming back home to Clinton.
    "It seems to be the return of the base to Clinton -- women voters, older voters and registered Democrats," he said.
    Clinton's well-received performance in front of the House Benghazi Committee two weeks ago and her accusations of sexism after Sanders' debate comment over shouting and gun control all appear to have helped Democratic voters see that she has successfully run the gauntlet, Murray said.
    "Every single domino has fallen her way," Murray said.
    Murray also noted that the Democratic field also looks set now, leaving many supporters of establishment Democrats to return home to Clinton.
    The Monmouth poll of 403 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted between October 29 and November 1 and has a plus-or-minus margin of error of 4.9 percent.