New poll puts Bernie Sanders ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont speaking at a town meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

For the first time a poll has Vermont senator Bernie Sanders ahead in the crucial early primary state of New Hampshire.

A poll released by Franklin Pierce University and the Boston Herald shows Sanders leading former secretary of state Hillary Clinton by 44% to 37% in New Hampshire among Democratic primary voters.

This marks the first time Sanders has taken a lead in any poll. By contrast, in a poll conducted by Franklin Pierce University eight years ago, in September 2007, Clinton led Barack Obama by 36% to 18%.

Related: Why do so many Democrats support Bernie Sanders? | Steve Winkler

While the poll may be an outlier, the very fact that Sanders, an unkempt septuagenarian socialist, is leading Clinton in any poll raises eyebrows. This marks the first time that Sanders has registered a lead over Clinton in any state or national poll. In past polls in New Hampshire, Clinton hadmaintained a narrow but comfortable lead in that state’s first-in-the-nation primary.

The Franklin Pierce poll, though, comes at a moment when Clinton faces increased scrutiny over her use of a private email server while secretary of state. On Tuesday, after months of fighting a government investigation into her use of email, Clinton announced she would hand over that server to government investigators.

The release of the poll also coincides with the ongoing deliberations of vice-president Joe Biden over a potential run against Clinton in the Democratic primary. A close aide to Biden recently joined the Draft Biden superPAC, which was widely interpreted as a signal that the vice-president was contemplating throwing his hat into the ring.

Despite her struggles in New Hampshire so far, Clinton is still receiving support from a majority of Democratic primary voters both nationally and in the crucial Iowa caucuses. She is also advantaged by the fact that Democrats will hold only four debates before the Iowa caucuses, with the earliest not scheduled to occur until October. © Guardian News and Media 2015