Sanders, who won the 2016 New Hampshire primary by a historic landslide, has also spent more time in the state than any potential rival. Later this month, he’ll headline a Democratic event in coastal Strafford County; last month, he headlined two of the party’s Labor Day events.
Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who have also appeared in New Hampshire this year, registered no support in the poll. (Delaney is the first, and so far only, declared Democratic candidate.)
Still, the recent history of UNH’s poll suggests that ultra-early numbers are largely academic. Four years ago, the Granite State poll pegged former secretary of state Hillary Clinton at 64 percent in New Hampshire. Six percent of voters supported Biden, and another 6 percent supported Warren — neither of whom ended up in the race.
The pollsters did not ask about Sanders until July 2014, after he had made several visits to the state. In that survey, Clinton came in at 59 percent; Sanders, at 5 percent. The Vermont senator did not run close to Clinton until July 2015, when both were official candidates and after Clinton had been damaged by her use of a private email server while at the State Department.
Clinton’s collapse and eventual defeat by Sanders was unprecedented in modern primary polling; so, however, was her early lead. Ahead of the 2008 primary, which Clinton ended up winning, no Democrat ever cracked 45 percent support in New Hampshire polls. The same was true in the crowded 2004 Democratic primary, when then-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and then-Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry both enjoyed a home-field advantage in New Hampshire.