Pete Buttigieg remains firm favourite for New Hampshire vote

US Democratic Party presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks speaks at the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Event in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA, 08 February 2020. The first of the National Primaries is to be held in New Hampshire on 11 February 2020. EPA-EFE/KATHERINE TAYLOR

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The New Hampshire Democratic primary is increasingly looking like a dual front-runner race as former Mayor Pete Buttigieg leaps ahead to join Senator Bernie Sanders at the front of the pack, according to newly released polls.

A new CNN/University of New Hampshire poll published on Saturday finds Mr. Sanders in the lead with 28 percent support from likely Democratic primary voters, up from 25 percent in a CNN/U.N.H. in mid-January. Mr. Buttigieg is also on the rise ahead of Tuesday’s primary: He is at 21 percent, compared to 16 percent in the January poll.

Mr. Buttigieg’s gain has come mostly at the expense of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who now has just 11 percent support. That is Mr. Biden’s lowest number yet in a CNN poll of the state, but roughly even with other New Hampshire polls that have come out.

Facing pressure to rebound after his fourth-place finish in Iowa, Mr. Biden and his campaign shifted tactics on Saturday and began a series of personal attacks on Mr. Buttigieg, with Mr. Biden questioning the former mayor’s preparedness for the presidency. When asked whether his comments were akin to Hillary Clinton’s attacks on then-Senator Barack Obama during the 2008 primary, Mr. Biden said Mr. Buttigieg, “This guy’s not a Barack Obama!”

Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg were statistically tied in both a Monmouth University survey released Thursday and a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll out Friday. Each survey was taken during the aftermath of Monday’s bungled Iowa caucuses.

These results set up a possible outcome that few had given much thought to before this week: Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg may emerge from the two earliest-voting states with roughly equal momentum, leaving even their strongest rivals scrambling to regain footing — even as the race expands to more diverse contests in the South and West.

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