Support for Pete Buttigieg jumped 14 points in a new Granite State Poll from the University of New Hampshire, launching him into the first-in-the-nation primary state’s top tier of candidates.
The poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire’s The Survey Center, shows the young mayor of South Bend, Indiana, joining Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Vice President Joe Biden at the top of the increasingly large Democratic presidential pack. Sanders and Biden have generally been dominating the field in national and state polling since the cycle began.
Sanders has been top of the list since last year in New Hampshire in the University of New Hampshire’s polling, helped by its close proximity to his home state of Vermont, with three-in-ten likely Democratic primary voters saying they’ll vote for him. While Biden usually dominates national surveys, he comes in second in New Hampshire, with 18%.
Buttigieg rounds out the top tier of candidates with 15%.
It’s another strong showing in a recent poll for Buttigieg, who has gone from being a mostly unknown Midwestern mayor to one of the spring’s hottest names in the Democratic presidential race. Polls from the last two months show the Hoosier is consistently finishing in third in early state polls behind Sanders and Biden.
Following the three top candidates in the University of New Hampshire survey are Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (5%); Kamala Harris of California (4%); Cory Booker of New Jersey (3%); former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas (3%); Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota (2%); businessman Andrew Yang (2%); and Rep. Tim Ryan (2%). The rest of the field tested at 1% or less.
Expect those numbers to change quite a bit in the coming months of polling: Only 9% of likely Democratic voters in New Hampshire said they’ve definitely decided who to vote for in the primary, and another 14% said they were leaning toward a candidate. Three-quarters said they still hadn’t decided.
When asked what candidates they want to support as an open-ended question (instead of a list of options), Buttigieg and Biden were much closer (11% and 12%, respectively), while Sanders still dominated, meaning that most people named Sanders as their candidate instead of choosing him from a list.
But the list is more similar to being in a voting booth than an open-ended question, which is more reflective of name recognition. A jump in the open-ended question rankings may mean a jump in name recognition for the South Bend mayor more than it means that other candidates have seen a decrease in their support.
When asked if there were any candidates that the respondents wouldn’t support under any circumstances, almost three in 10 likely Democratic primary voters said that all candidates would be OK. But 14% said they wouldn’t support Warren under any circumstance, more than any other candidate.
Likely Democratic primary voters were torn on whether Sanders or Biden has the best chance to win the general election in November. About half also said they were at least somewhat concerned that choosing a candidate over the age of 70 would decrease the party’s chance of winning. Fewer were concerned about nominating an openly gay candidate (38%) or a woman (23%).
Biden trumps other candidates for likeability – 28% said he’s the most likeable Democratic candidate – while Sanders wins on progressiveness (36% of Democratic likely voters said he’s the most progressive).
On the Republican side, 76% of likely primary voters said they would support President Donald Trump if the election were held today. Fewer said they’d vote for former Govs. John Kasich (10%) and Bill Weld (5%).
The Granite State Poll was conducted April 10-18 and includes interviews with 549 randomly chosen New Hampshire adults who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 4.2 percentage points. Included in the sample were 208 likely 2020 Republican primary voters (+/- 6.8 percent) and 241 likely 2020 Democratic primary voters (+/- 6.3 percent).