Compared to the fireworks of the Republican presidential primary, the Democratic race has been relatively mellow.
Now, things are heating up as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has become highly competitive with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses.
Two NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls released on Jan. 10 show Sanders’ numbers have grown in the two battle states, leading the presumptive front-runner in New Hampshire and edging close to her within the margin of error in Iowa.
Clinton currently leads Iowa with 48 percent, Sanders coming in second with 45 percent. Even those numbers aren’t close enough already, the margin of error of the survey is 4.6 percentage, meaning that the Vermont senator and former Secretary of State could be neck-and-neck.
In New Hampshire, Sanders is leading with 50 percent to Clinton’s 46 percent.
The results have also challenged the conventional wisdom that Sanders could not win in a general election.
The polls indicate that in a hypothetical general election matchup, Clinton would beat Trump in Iowa by 48 to 40 percent and New Hampshire by a tight 45 to 44 percent.
The results also show Sanders would defeat Republican front-runner Donald Trump by 51 to 38 percent in Iowa and by 56 to 37 percent in New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is projected to beat Clinton in a hypothetical matchup in both states. He would lead her in Iowa by 47 to 43 percent and in New Hampshire 48 to 44 percent.
Sanders would best Cruz in a general election contest, winning Iowa by 47 to 42 percent and New Hampshire by a whopping 55 to 36 percent.
The polls note that Sanders’ impressive haul for a hypothetical general election race is that he does well with independent voters, who would find him appealing when compared to more partisan choices such as Clinton, Trump or Cruz.
As the Vermont senator has been gaining on her in these crucial caucuses, Clinton has been intensifying her attacks on her party rival. She has slammed Sanders repeatedly for his moderate stance on gun manufacturers and has questioned his electability, positioning herself as the Democratic candidate with the best shot at securing the White House, according to CNN.
The Vermont senator, now armed with these encouraging new poll results, is now challenging that claim.
“She is wrong,” Sanders told CBS. “And the facts tell us she is wrong. It doesn’t sound to me like here in Iowa, a battleground state, that she is the most electable candidate.”