Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has jumped out to a sizable lead in a key early primary state, despite heightened attacks from his competitors and former nominee Hillary Clinton, according to a WBUR-FM poll.
The new poll shows Sanders leading all primary candidates in New Hampshire by double figures, and a 14-point increase by Sanders from December to January suggests his campaign may still be gaining momentum.
WBUR's poll has Sanders at 29 percent, followed by former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 17 percent, former Vice President Joe Biden at 14 percent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at 13 percent.
The only two other candidates who qualified for the January debate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tom Steyer, are at 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Last month, Sanders was third in this same poll at 15 percent, trailing Buttigieg (18 percent) and Biden (17 percent).
Sanders has become a target this month. Before the January debate, anonymous sources leaked a story to CNN that Sanders told Warren in 2018 that a woman could not win the 2020 presidential election. Sanders has denied saying that, while Warren maintains that he did.
Warren confronted Sanders after the debate and accused Sanders of calling her a liar on national television. Sanders accused her of the same. It's unknown who is telling the truth, but the conflict has broken down a long-standing truce between the two candidates who have been friends, and who are ideologically similar.
This week Clinton torched Sanders harshly critical comments attacking his likability and the allegedly toxic culture perpetuated by Sanders, his staff, and his supporters.
"He was in Congress for years," Clinton says of Sanders in a Hulu documentary to be released in March. "He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It's all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it."
Clinton confirmed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that she stood by those words.