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Hillary Clinton Increases Lead Against Bernie Sanders In Primary Race

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 20/10/2015 Janie Velencia

Two national polls out Tuesday show former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton making significant gains against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), her chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, in the wake of last week's Democratic primary debate.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds that Clinton's standing among Democratic primary voters has improved by 7 percentage points in one month. At the same time, Sanders has dropped 6 points and Vice President Joe Biden, who has not actually said he intends to run for president, has dropped 2 points. Clinton now has 49 percent of the vote, Sanders has 29 percent and Biden has 15 percent. No other Democratic rival captures more than 2 percent. 

Without Biden in the mix, Clinton's lead grows even wider against Sanders (58 percent to 33 percent).  

Similarly, an ABC/Washington Post poll shows Clinton making a rebound at the cost of Sanders and Biden. The survey finds that Clinton has improved 12 points since September, while Sanders has dropped 1 point and Biden has fallen 5 points. Clinton now stands at 54 percent, Sanders at 23 percent and Biden at 16 percent. 

Without Biden in the poll, Clinton jumps to 64 percent and Sander gets a slight bump to 25 percent.

The ABC/Post poll finds that Clinton's bump come mostly at the expense of Biden. She has gained 19 points among women and 18 points among white voters, people ages 50 and over and people who live in the suburbs.

The HuffPost Pollster National chart, which aggregates all publicly available polls, also shows Clinton making a rebound since her numbers dipped this past summer. The HuffPost Pollster average shows Clinton at 49 percent, Sanders at 25 percent and Biden at 17 percent.

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Clinton's strong debate performance may help explain her turnaround in the polls. The ABC/Post survey found that more than twice as many respondents considered her the winner of last week's debate, compared with respondents who said the same of Sanders. 

Voters seem less sure of whether Biden should officially enter the race. The NBC/WSJ poll found that 38 percent would prefer that Biden not run, 30 percent would prefer he does and 31 percent have no opinion. A much-anticipated decision is expected from Biden this week. (Meanwhile, the Democratic field is set to become a bit smaller on Tuesday, with former Sen. Jim Webb [D-Va.] expected to announce his exit from the race as a Democrat.) 

As always, it's worth remembering that primary polls this early in the election cycle are poor predictors of the eventual outcome. Still, these polls show a distinct change in the state of the race in the past month.

NBC/WSJ surveyed 400 likely Democratic primary voters Oct. 15 through 18. ABC/Post surveyed 444 registered Democrats Oct. 15 through 18. Both surveys conducted live interviews via telephones and cell phones.  

ATHENA IMAGE © Luke William Pasley/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

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