Sanders pulls within striking distance of Clinton: NBC-WSJ poll

Clinton leads in national NBC/WSJ poll
Clinton leads in national NBC/WSJ poll   

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the self-described "democratic socialist," has drawn within striking distance of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the national race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

The survey, taken after Sanders ran even with Clinton in the Iowa caucuses and then routed her in the New Hampshire primary, shows Clinton with a 53 percent lead among Democratic primary voters to 42 percent for Sanders. She held a 25 percentage point lead a month ago.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton
Reuters (left); Getty Images
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

The poll shows Clinton with a nearly 2-to-1 advantage among nonwhite voters, whose support she is banking on as the nomination race moves to Nevada on Saturday and South Carolina on Feb. 27, among other contests. She leads by 58 percent to 39 percent among women, by 62 percent to 31 percent among Democratic primary voters aged 50 and older, and 58 percent to 37 percent among self-identified Democrats. (Registered independents can vote in some party primaries.)

Sanders draws strength from his 54 percent to 41 percent edge among white men, his 61 percent to 33 percent lead among independents and his 57 percent to 40 percent advantage among primary voters under age 50.

Some 22 percent of Democratic primary voters cited Clinton's ties to Wall Street as their greatest concern about her; just 7 percent identified the controversy over her private email server. But fully two-thirds said neither issue substantially troubled them.

Concerning Sanders, 26 percent cited his lack of foreign policy experience as their chief concern, while 23 percent pointed to policy proposals that are out of the mainstream and would complicate his ability to beat a Republican in November. Some 47 percent said neither substantially troubled them.

The telephone survey of 400 Democratic primary voters, conducted Feb. 14-16, carries an error margin of 4.9 percentage points.

Correction: The South Carolina Democratic primary is Feb. 27. An earlier version misstated the date.