There’s a lot of crazy stuff out there in the polling right now, and savvy consumers of polling should know better than to put too much stock in any single poll, or for that matter to get too carried away with primary polls, which have always been volatile and often been wrong. Still, some things in the polling bear watching, and the latest Suffolk New Hampshire poll of the Democratic race features a gender gap so massive it should set off alarm bells for Hillary Clinton not just in the primary but potentially the general election.
Overall, the poll shows Hillary down 9 to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, 50-41, which underlines the likelihood that Bernie has New Hampshire locked up, but is more realistic and less grisly for Hillary than the headline-grabbing 60-33 walloping reported by the recent CNN/ORC poll. Looking at the poll’s internal breakdowns, we see that Hillary’s “you go, girl” appeal to female voters is what’s keeping her in the game, as she has a significant 17-point lead among women, 54-37.
By journalistic conventions we’re supposed to call this a “gender gap” problem for Sanders, except that his lead among men is massively larger than Hillary’s among women – among male voters, Bernie beats Hillary 67-25, a ridiculous 42-point margin and one that is likely to set off new rounds of hand-wringing about the commitment to feminism of the “Bernie bro” voters (no, really, this is a thing). That’s not a gender gap, it’s a gender gulf. Nate Cohn noted a similar split the other day in one of the Iowa polls asking about perceptions of the candidates’ likelihood of winning the election.
Martin O’Malley also gets 8% of men in the poll, but just 1% of the ladies. If you include O’Malley, Hillary is up 54-38 with women, but down 75-25 among men. Fifty points.
Suffolk, by the way, is one of the more reputable New Hampshire pollsters, in a state that is notoriously rotten with bad polling due in part to its vast and unpredictable pool of independents. The poll has a lopsided gender split overall – 57% women, 43% men, and surprisingly no other options provided – but that mirrors the 2008 New Hampshire primary, when the Democratic primary electorate was 57% female (and the Republican electorate 57% male). The gender gap was real but less extreme then, as Hillary beat Obama and John Edwards in New Hampshire by winning women with 46% vs 34/15 Obama/Edwards while losing men with 29% vs 40/19 Obama/Edwards.
Assuming she’s the nominee (still a safe assumption), Hillary will have real appeal to some female voters on gender alone; this and her massive name recognition are almost the entire basis of her candidacy, which is certainly not based on any accomplishments in public life or great political skill on the trail. But if even Democratic men are easily peeled away from her in such massive numbers, a male GOP candidate – especially a vigorous young candidate like Cruz or Rubio – could expose quite how badly she turns off men.
A few other random tidbits from the Suffolk poll:
-63% of the likely Democratic primary voters surveyed were Democrats, 33% Independents, 3% Republicans.
-Among the voters surveyed, 7% might be convinced to vote in the GOP primary instead for John Kasich, 6% for Donald Trump, 3% for Jeb Bush, and 2% each for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz; 73% were certain they could not be tempted to vote in the GOP primary. However, 20% allowed that they agreed with some of the things Trump is saying.
-18% still want Joe Biden to get in the race.
-1% of poll respondents had never heard of Barack Obama.