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Poll: Bernie Sanders surges to within striking distance of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire

Sanders after an event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on May 27.
Sanders after an event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on May 27.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) insists he's in the Democratic presidential race to win — not just to force Hillary Clinton to the left. That's a big long shot, but new polling from Morning Consult suggests that he's within striking distance of Clinton in one key early primary state: New Hampshire. While Hillary is still ahead by double digits with 44 percent of the vote, Sanders garners 32 percent. All other contenders — including Joe Biden, who's unlikely to run at this point — trail far behind.

That said, Bernie is much further behind in Iowa:

And South Carolina:

And even the New Hampshire numbers contradict polling from other outfits in the last two months. RealClearPolitics' polling average includes responses from as early as April 9, so it may be missing a late Bernie surge, but it suggests a much harder road ahead:

There's a history of upset wins in the New Hampshire primary by insurgent candidates who wind up going nowhere. There was Pat Buchanan's victory in 1996, John McCain's in 2000, and Gary Hart's in 1984, to name a few. The Morning Consult polling suggests that Sanders has an outside chance of joining their ranks, aided, no doubt, by his geographical proximity as a senator from Vermont. But the Iowa and South Carolina numbers are further evidence that he has nowhere near the establishment support or the backing in other crucial early states necessary to actually have a shot at winning the nomination.