Washington, Nov 13 (IANS) Hillary Clinton has largely maintained her lead in the Democratic presidential race despite a month of sharpened attacks by rival Bernie Sanders, a self proclaimed democratic socialist, according to a new poll.
Former Secretary of State Clinton has support from 52 percent of Democratic primary voters while Vermont senator Sanders has backing from 33 percent, a New York Times/CBS News survey released on Thursday found.
In an early October CBS News poll, she led Sanders 56 percent to 32 percent.
Clinton, Sanders, and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who received 5 percent of the vote in the Times/CBS News poll, will face off Saturday night at the second Democratic debate in Des Moines.
Sanders supporters stand out as especially engaged with the presidential race. Fifty-four percent of them said they were paying a lot of attention to the campaign, compared with 38 percent of Clinton’s backers.
But Clinton enjoys a firmer base of voters than Sanders, according to the poll. Fifty-four percent of her supporters said their minds were completely made up, while 58 percent of Sanders’s supporters said they had not made a final decision.
And 43 percent of Democrats said they would enthusiastically support Clinton as their presidential nominee, compared to 35 percent for Sanders.
Slim majorities of women, nonwhites and older voters said they would enthusiastically back Clinton as the party’s choice, while just three in 10 male Democrats said they would feel that way about her as their standard-bearer in 2016.
According to the poll, 62 percent Democratic primary voters think Clinton, not Sanders, is the candidate more likely to bring about change if elected president. Fifty-one percent think Sanders could do the same.
The nationwide poll, conducted November 6-10 also found that Democratic primary voters overwhelmingly approve of President Barack Obama, and six in 10 want to see the Democratic nominee continue his policies.
At the same time, a plurality of Democratic primary voters (25 percent) think that bringing about needed change is the most important candidate quality from a list of five.
Being honest and trustworthy is a close second (22 percent), followed by strong leadership (19 percent), the right experience (15 percent), and caring about people like me (14 percent).
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)