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New polls on Sanders-Clinton electability

Generally, Bernie Sanders does better than Hillary Clinton against the leading Republican presidential candidates.

A week ago, I rambled at length about the Sanders/Clinton choice, confessed that I would support whichever of them I thought had a better chance in November, acknowledged that I don’t know which one that is, and mentioned on the underdog Sanders-might-be-the-electable-one side of the argument that head-to-head trial-heat polls matching each of the two Dems against the leading Repubs generally showed Bernie Sanders running better than Hillary Clinton. But I also noted that the polls were quite old. So I thought I’d pass along a couple of fresher poll results in that category of which of the Dems runs better against the leading Repubs.

Quinnipiac recently (Feb. 5) ran trial heats, among likely voters, of each of the Dems against Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. In all three comparisons, Sanders polled a bit better than Clinton.

The results:

  • Clinton beats Trump by five points, 46-41.

  • Sanders beats Trump by 10, 49-39.

  • Clinton ties Cruz, 45-45.

  • Sanders edges Cruz by four, 46-42.

  • Clinton trails Rubio by seven, 41-48.

  • Sanders ties Rubio, 43-43.

I don’t believe polls (or anything else) reliably tell the future. I’m skeptical of relying on them, or anything else. I’ll also repeat, from the previous piece, that Democrats who say they attach the most importance to nominating the most electable Democrat overwhelmingly prefer Clinton.

But it’s hard to argue that any metric more directly measures that question better than the kind of head-to-head polls above.

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by John Appelen on 02/08/2016 - 05:06 pm.


    I find it very hard to believe that Bernie has a shot in a national election, even against the poor competitors that the GOP seems to be fielding / supporting. Of course Hillary with all the conspiracy theories surrounding her is not much better.

    If we get Sanders and Cruz running, maybe a good third party candidate would have a excellent chance. 🙂

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/08/2016 - 05:57 pm.

    At this stage of the campaign

    these poll results look to be within the margin of error of the poll statistics (I’d need more information to say for sure).
    Polls more than a day or two before an election are more money raising devices than anything else.
    I wouldn’t take these results too seriously — they say that there are still two viable Democratic candidates and three Republican ones — any someone else could still come out of the woodwork.

  3. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 02/08/2016 - 07:22 pm.

    The big unknown

    Conventional wisdom and much of our history since WWII tells us that a left-wing candidate like Bernie who proudly boasts his Democratic Socialist credentials will go down in flames a la Henry A. Wallace (who was probably the most qualified candidate ever to run for the office), Adlai Stevenson and George McGovern. Or John Kerry, I suppose. The big unknown is whether right wing red-baiting (for that is what it is, implying the connection with Communism, Stalinism and the Soviet Union), still works in 21st Century America, twenty five years after the Cold War has ended. Will newer voters who were born after all that ancient history even know about this? Can anyone believe a candidate like Bernie is somehow a “traitor” because he espouses democratic economic egalitarianism?

    Hillary right now is still looking like the “safer” candidate on that score. Americans have shown they’ll elect a suspected crook over a suspected pinko every time. Which is not to imply that Hillary is anything like a crook or can be suspected of anything crooked. But the right will bring up her dealings with Whitewater and probably even try to bring us Vince Foster and Benghazi, to make it seem like she might be one. My question is, how long are we going to be denied candidates who really represent our interests by a conventional wisdom based on historical precedents and circumstances about which Americans know so little anyway?

  4. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/08/2016 - 09:25 pm.

    Either one….

    If H.C. is the nominee at least we will not have articles concerning getting the “big money special interests” out of politics on the pages of MinnPost.

    If Socialist Bernie is the nominee we will have not read on the pages of MinnPost the virtues of being a “moderate deficit hawk.”

    Of course if either is the nominee we will have many articles based on the importance of having years and years and years and years and years of experience needed to be President.

  5. Submitted by Donald Larsson on 02/08/2016 - 10:57 pm.

    I suspect that Rubio’s lead has already slipped.

    Again, I have to say Rubio’s lead has already slipped.
    Anyone who’s watching has to agree that Rubio’s lead has already slipped.
    (repeat that clause until Chris Christie flattens it again.)

  6. Submitted by David Mindeman on 02/09/2016 - 12:57 am.

    Too early to make any judgment

    While I agree that head to head polling looks more favorable to Bernie, there is still the point to be made that Clinton gets much more scrutiny than Bernie. When the Republicans debate, they don’t make comparisons with Bernie Sanders – it is Hillary that gets mentioned as often as Obama. At this stage of the game, you attack the opponent you do not want to run against – Hillary is attacked; Bernie is not. That speaks volumes.

  7. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/09/2016 - 11:47 am.

    Of course the Republicans don’t want to run against Hillary Clinton. She’s tough, seasoned, well-informed, capable of fending off a Benghasi committee for eleven solid hours in a day without wilting and without giving an inch. And she’s been attacked again and again, often unfairly (I mean, for Bill’s indiscretions?). She’s till there, standing tall, a fighter if ever we had one running for President. She would wipe the floor with a Trump or a baby like Rubio.

    Bernie Sanders has never had to face anything like what Hillary Clinton has already faced down. He’s unseasoned in that regard, may wilt under pressure, and he sure as the dickens doesn’t know beans about foreign policy. And, there will not be a “head-to-head” contest if Sanders is the Democratic nominee, as these polls posit: There will be a third-party Bloomberg candidate. And he will take Democratic, progressive votes.

    Bloomberg won’t run if Hillary gets nominated. So, if you want a Democratic President, Hillary Clinton is your nominee.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/09/2016 - 12:41 pm.

      The only republican candidate

      with the foreign policy cred to embarrass Sanders is Bush, and he’s not likely to be nominated.

  8. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 02/09/2016 - 11:57 am.

    Whatever the pollsters tell us..,

    Pollsters…a gaggle of geese, a cast of hawks, a company of parrots, a cover of coots?

    Or is it more like a murder of crows? Who do we trust if we are to rely on a poll?

    Or is it like Great Aunt Berta often reminded me on a below -zero, winter’s school day…”Don’t tongue yourself on on the playground flag’ poll’ or you will be stuck and regret it.”

    Take a poll, any poll…not a barometer one can count on, no sir.

    Who wins, who loses in this craziest of campaigns? Who’s polling? Whose rhetorical/political entrails are possibly, just a wee bit biased in their calculations, who knows? Rely on free range pollsters? Like the Raven, never more.

    Whatever the polls say today, tomorrow, they really say nothing we need to know as they drag us under their influence… if we want to be such a winner?

    I am voting for Bernie Sanders…you may vote otherwise…just vote. To h…with the pollsters.

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