MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE - A new poll suggests Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and real estate mogul Donald Trump are maintaining their large leads in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire, which holds a crucial presidential primary vote Tuesday.
The poll, released by Monmouth University Sunday, showed Trump with support from 30 percent of likely Republican Party voters in the Granite State. That is hardly changed from a month ago.
Trump is 16 points ahead of his closest rival, Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is in a tight race for second place along with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and ex-Florida governor Jeb Bush.
In the Democratic race, the poll showed Sanders with a 10-point lead over former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. That's down from the 14-point lead that Sanders had over Clinton last month.
Sanders has an advantage in New Hampshire, which is next to his home state of Vermont. But Clinton has vowed not to give up, hoping to narrow the gap after both candidates tied in Iowa’s inaugural nominating contest last week.
The New Hampshire election also is seen as crucial for several GOP candidates, especially those in the second tier who did not do well in Iowa.
Rubio defends debate showing
Rubio, who finished with a better than expected third place result in Iowa, spent Sunday trying to recover from what was widely regarded as a poor debate performance the night before.
During that debate, the Florida senator came under attack from several of his rivals, most notably New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
After Christie accused Rubio of being inexperienced and memorizing talking points, Rubio appeared rattled and unconfident, awkwardly repeating himself several times.
On Sunday, Rubio defended his debate showing, insisting he was able to stay on message by criticizing President Barack Obama.
“It’s what I believe,” Rubio told ABC’s This Week. “And it’s what I’m going to continue to say, because it happens to be one of the main reasons why I’m running."
Several of Rubio’s rivals jumped at the opportunity to mock the freshman senator’s debate performance, including Bush, who on Sunday said Rubio appeared “robotic.”
Trump stands by waterboarding call
Trump, who was seen by many analysts as being one of the winners of the debate, on Sunday defended his call to revive waterboarding.
The interrogation technique, which is essentially simulated drowning, is effective, according to Trump, who appeared on CNN’s State of the Union.
“They’re chopping the heads of Christians and many other people in the Middle East,” Trump said. “They laugh at us when they hear we’re not going to approve waterboarding.
During Saturday’s debate, Trump said he would bring back waterboarding “and a hell of a lot worse” than that if he were elected president.
Sanders appears on SNL
Sanders continued to make an appeal to the youth vote, making several brief appearances in comedy skits on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
In one sketch, Sanders was able to stay on message, railing against preferential treatment for rich people trying to survive a sinking ship of European immigrants coming to America.
“Enough is enough,” shouted Sanders, waving his hands and using some of the lines from his oft-repeated campaign stump speech.
On Sunday, it was back to serious discussion for Sanders. He appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press, where he acknowledged his rival Clinton’s foreign policy experience.
“She was our secretary of state for four years, that gives her a lot of experience,” Sanders said. “But it is not just experience that matters. It is judgment.”
Sanders has repeatedly criticized Clinton for her vote in favor of the U.S. invasion of Iraq during her time as a U.S. senator. Sanders voted against the war.
Clinton heads to Michigan
Clinton on Sunday headed to Flint, Michigan, which has suffered a drinking water contamination crisis after lead from old pipes was found in the water supply.
Visiting a local church in Flint, Clinton said the crisis is “immoral,” and she demanded the government do more to help residents there.
Before leaving New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton told Meet the Press she was not sure whether she would be able to come back to win in the Granite State.
“I know I’m behind,” Clinton said.
Tuesday’s primary vote could be impacted by weather. Forecasters expect scattered snow showers across the state during the polls, possibly creating slick roads.
Nonetheless, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has predicted a record 550,000 voters will turn up for the election.