Bernie Sanders within striking distance in New Hampshire

Two new polls of New Hampshire Democrats show Bernie Sanders surging against Hillary Clinton.

In the first poll, conducted by Morning Consult, Sanders trails Clinton 44-32 among registered voters; in the second, conducted by Suffolk University, he trails 41-31 among likely Democratic primary voters.

What’s more, the Suffolk poll puts Clinton’s lead among likely voters who “know both” of the candidates at a mere three points — with her lead standing at 38-35 — suggesting that Sanders has room for improvement as a greater share of the electorate becomes familiar with him.

As Suffolk noted in their press release:

“This signals that Clinton is leading because more voters have never heard of Sanders,” said [Suffolk University Researcher David] Paleologos. “Perhaps the most telling statistic is political philosophy.” Clinton led Sanders among self-identified moderates 46 percent to 26 percent, but among those identifying as liberal, the race is tied at 39 percent.

Bernie Sanders, via AFGE / Flickr

Bernie Sanders, via AFGE / Flickr

Furthermore, when Suffolk asked respondents who weren’t supporting Clinton why that was the case, almost as many stated a positive preference for Sanders (10%) as expressed a negative distrust of Clinton (12%). In other words, support for Sanders is more than a mere protest against Clinton; people who are familiar with Sanders like what he has to say. A lot.

While polls in other early primary states show Clinton with a clear and commanding lead, Sanders has maintained for weeks that he is going to win New Hampshire, his home state of Vermont’s next-door neighbor. These series of polls show that, with more than six months left until the primary takes place, he has plenty of time to close the gap and prove himself right.

While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that two polls from one state in early June make for a plausible path to victory, this does suggest that there is an opening for Sanders to turn this Democratic primary into a real race. The less Hillary Clinton says on issues progressives care about, and the more Bernie keeps being Bernie, the more momentum we’ll see him pick up.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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