Democrats Say Long Primary Helps Their Party — WSJ/NBC News Poll

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, left, and Bernie Sanders shake hands before the CNN Democratic presidential debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on April 14, 2016, in New York.

By JANET HOOK – – – –

Democratic voters say Hillary Clinton’s long presidential primary fight with Sen. Bernie Sanders is helping more than hurting their party’s chances in November, the opposite of how voters felt about her primary fight against then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.

Some 40% of Democratic primary voters said it would be good for the party if Mr. Sanders remained a candidate at least through the end of the primary season in June, while 22% said it would hurt the party.

An additional 38% said it made no difference or were not sure about the impact.

In April 2008, when Mrs. Clinton was running against Mr. Obama, 21% said it would be good for the party and 37% saw it as bad if she stayed in the race until the primary season ended. She suspended her campaign against Mr. Obama on June 7.

The new poll comes at a time when many Democrats worry that Mr. Sanders’s persistence, and his attacks on the former secretary of state, are driving up her unfavorable ratings and threatening to sap support that would flow to her in the general election.

In the new survey, 34% of registered voters said they had a positive image of Mrs. Clinton, while 54% saw her in a negative light—the fourth month in a row that her negative ratings hit or surpassed 50%.

In the poll’s test of a matchup between Mrs. Clinton and Donald Trump, the de facto Republican nominee, Mrs. Clinton led by 46% to 43% among registered voters. But the results suggested that defections by Mr. Sanders’s supporters could hurt Mrs. Clinton in the general election. The poll found that just 66% of Sanders’s primary supporters would back Mrs. Clinton in a head-to-head with Mr. Trump; 17% said they would support Mr. Trump. The rest said they would vote for neither or were not sure.

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