A national Reuters/Ipsos poll released Monday found Sen. Bernie Sanders leading President Donald Trump by 18 percentage points among independent voters in a hypothetical general election match-up, a result Sanders supporters viewed as evidence that the Vermont senator has the best chance of defeating the president in November.
According to the new survey (pdf), Sanders has the support of 46% of registered independent voters while Trump polled at 28% support. The poll also showed former Vice President Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Michael Bloomberg, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) ahead of Trump among independents, but Sanders’ lead was the largest.
“Bernie Sanders is undeniably the strongest candidate against Donald Trump,” tweeted journalist Walker Bragman in response to the new survey.
The poll also found Sanders leading Trump nationally among all registered voters:
The national survey came just hours before New Hampshire voters headed to the polls Tuesday for the first-in-the-nation primary.
As Russell Berman wrote for The Atlantic Monday, independent voters could prove to be Sanders’ “secret weapon” in New Hampshire and other states that allow independents to participate in the primary process.
“The Vermont senator’s lead in several public polls is bolstered by his strong support among independent, or undeclared, voters, who are welcome to participate in New Hampshire’s primary and could make up as much as 40% of the electorate,” Berman wrote. “Beyond New Hampshire, Sanders’ advantage among independent voters could be his secret weapon in the many large, delegate-rich states that allow them to cast ballots in the Democratic primary.”
“Sanders has already demonstrated his strength with voters who have snubbed both parties,” Berman added, “and that may prove decisive not only in New Hampshire on Tuesday, but in many states to come.”