A newly released Morning Consult poll taken entirely after the New Hampshire primary seems to confirm the worst fears among some Democratic Party leaders: Sen. Bernie Sanders is now the clear front-runner for their party's nomination.
With 29 percent of the poll's respondents indicating they would vote for the Vermont democratic socialist, Sanders tops the field of candidates. He has an ample lead over former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who stand at 19 and 18 percent, respectively, with Democratic voters.
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg comes in at fourth place with 11 percent, while Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, once considered the favorite to win the nomination, is in fifth place with 10 percent. Meanwhile, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who had a surprisingly strong finish in the New Hampshire primary, is the favorite among 5 percent of Democrats nationwide.
For the survey, Morning Consult interviewed 2,639 registered voters nationwide who indicated they may vote in the Democratic primary or caucuses in their state.
'Poor reading for Biden'
According to pollster Eli Yokley, the poll is bad news for Biden, who political commentators like Ben Shapiro have said is "clogging" the "moderate lane" in the Democratic primary.
"The results are poor reading for Biden, who continues a dramatic drop that erases the national lead he held for over a year until his fourth-place showing in the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses," Yokley wrote in a memo accompanying the poll results.
In his analysis, Yokley notes that the race was tighter before the New Hampshire primary, when Sanders' lead over Biden was within the margin of error, 25 to 22 percent.
"The decline in Biden's support comes amid faltering voter confidence over his perceived general-election strength, even as he banks his candidacy for the Democratic nod on the more diverse electorates driving nominating contests in Nevada and South Carolina ahead of Super Tuesday."
The researcher also said that Biden's standing with black voters is deteriorating as he enters the crucial South Carolina primary.
"Among black voters — one of Biden's strongest blocs of support — confidence in his chances of beating Trump fell 10 points, to 21 percent. Roughly a third of black voters (32 percent) said Sanders is Democrats' best chance to beat Trump, up 9 points from last week, and 21 percent said Bloomberg, up 7 points."
'I'm scared to death ...'
Sanders' 10-point lead comes as Democratic leaders are openly fretting about the impact of his campaign on down-ballot Democrats in key states across the country and whether an open socialist can win the presidency.
"If he's at the top of the ticket in 2020, it's going to be a bad year for Democrats in Florida," said Florida state Rep. Javier Fernandez to the Miami Herald. Fernandez is running for a swing Senate seat in South Florida.
This sentiment was echoed by veteran Democratic strategist James Carville, who said he's "scared to death" of Democrats' chances to win back the White House. Carville even compared Sanders to the UK's Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing leader of the Labour Party, which was decimated during December elections.
"If we go the way of the British Labour Party, if we nominate Jeremy Corbyn, it's going to be the end of days. ... So I am scared to death, I really am," said the former adviser to President Bill Clinton regarding Sanders' candidacy, according to Fox News.
Meanwhile, according to a Gallup poll released earlier in the week, a majority of Americans say they would never vote for a socialist for president. Fifty-three percent said they would vote against a socialist candidate, while only 45 percent of respondents in the study indicated they would back one.