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Amy Klobuchar’s boomlet clogs the moderate lane

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar could be having a New Hampshire moment.

Klobuchar seems to be gaining support ahead of Tuesday’s vote in the Granite State. Her jump in the polls may have an unexpected beneficiary: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who looks to benefit from a division among moderate voters.

Klobuchar’s rise is evident in the final CNN/University of New Hampshire Survey Center tracking poll. She was at just 4% on Thursday and Friday of this past week. She leaped to 11% on Saturday and Sunday in the tracking poll.

The movement to 4% to 11% coincides well with the Democratic debate on Friday. Klobuchar received strong reviews for her debate performance. Perhaps not surprisingly, Klobuchar has picked up some steam as the focus of many of her attacks, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, seems to have lost momentum.

The polling average illustrates Buttigieg’s stall quite well. He went from 12% before Iowa to 22% late last week, but is now at 21%. During that same period, Klobuchar went from 7% to 8% to 10% now.

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Klobuchar is just behind former Vice President Joe Biden at 13%. It is conceivable she finishes ahead of him and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, also at 13% in the average.

Unfortunately for Buttigieg and Klobuchar, neither of them is leading in New Hampshire. The lead in every poll is Sanders. He clocks in with 27% in the average, six points ahead of Buttigieg.

Sanders is able to lead because he has coalesced the liberal lane. You can see this well in a CBS News/YouGov poll out this weekend. He has 35% among self-described liberals. No one is within 10 points of him.

Buttigieg has an advantage among moderates, but he’s at only 26%. He’s followed by Sanders at 20% and Biden at 18%. Klobuchar is at 15%.

The division between moderate voters is quite a shift from early January. Back then, Biden was at 35% among moderates. His closest competitor (Sanders) was at a mere 18%. Buttigieg had 14%, while Klobuchar (7%) was actually behind Warren at 9%.

This is the exact type of scenario that a candidate like Sanders wants. It allows him to win with only a clear plurality among liberals. The fracturing of the moderate lane has allowed Sanders to polling lead.

If one of the three moderate candidates was in the 30s like Sanders is with liberals, New Hampshire would be a tossup.

The question going forward in the primary process is whether a dominant moderate candidate emerges. If she or he does, Sanders is in trouble.

Otherwise, Sanders is well-positioned to win the nomination.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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