Bernie Sanders surges ahead of Hillary Clinton in stunning new 2016 poll

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US Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has surged to a lead over Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, according to a new Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll out late Tuesday night.

The poll gives Sanders a 44-37 lead over Clinton in the run for the Democratic nomination in the state.

It signals that Clinton will face a tougher-than-expected challenge in the important first-primary state, as voters in the Granite State remain unenthusiastic about her candidacy.

Photos of Hillary Clinton on the 2016 campaign trail:

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Bernie Sanders surges ahead of Hillary Clinton in stunning new 2016 poll
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According to the poll, just 35% of New Hampshire Democratic voters said they are "excited" about Clinton's campaign. And 38% of Democrats have a "very favorable" impression of Clinton (though eight in 10 Democrats do view her favorably in general).

All of Clinton's numbers have plunged significantly since March, when Franklin Pierce University last surveyed the Granite State. In March, 50% of Democratic voters in the state viewed her "very favorably."

And Clinton held a 25-point lead in the state in the March poll over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), who is not running for president. Sanders garnered just 8% of the vote in March. Meanwhile, more than half of New Hampshire Democrats have a "very favorable" impression of Sanders, who has been seeing swelling crowds at events across the nation.

The poll grabbed the attention of many political analysts as a fresh sign of Clinton's potential weaknesses as a candidate.

"Clinton is in free fall, and leaders of the party agree that Sanders would lose at least 49 states in the general election," said Greg Valliere, the chief political strategist at the Potomac Research Group. "So the speculation will intensify -- starting today -- that Joe Biden may have to save the party from a debacle."

Photos of Bernie Sanders from over the years:

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Bernie Sanders surges ahead of Hillary Clinton in stunning new 2016 poll
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during an event in Iowa Falls, Iowa, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. With a week to go until the Iowa caucuses and the Democratic presidential race there in a virtual dead heat, Hillary Clinton and Sanders are mapping out divergent paths toward winning the first votes of the nomination process. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Washington, UNITED STATES: Newly-elected senators meet with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (R), D-NV, in Washington, DC 13 November 2006. From left are: Senator-elect James Webb, D-VA, Senator-elect Bernie Sanders, I-VT, Senator-elect Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, and Reid. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
US Congressman Elliot Engel (L) takes pictures next to US Senator Bernie Sanders after being dressed as Bouale leaders by public notaries of the Kouadioyaokro village, 150 km from Abidjan, 09 November 2008. US Senators Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders visit comes ahead of a July 2008 certification deadline to ensure cocoa heading to the United States -- the third largest importer of Ivorian cocoa -- has not been produced with child labour. AFP PHOTO/ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, SC - APRIL 25: Potential Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (R) (I-VT) delivers remarks at the South Carolina Democratic Party state convention April 25, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Sanders joined former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Sen. Lincoln Chafee in speaking to the convention. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 20: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) participates in a 'Don't Trade Our Future' march organized by the group Campaign for America's Future April 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. The event was part of the Populism 2015 Conference which is conducting their conference with the theme 'Building a Movement for People and the Planet.' (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, greets supporters during a campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S., on Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Sanders said he had attracted 200,000 donors as of mid-June and his campaign had raised $8.3 million online through June 17, according to FEC filings by ActBlue, the fundraising platform that he and some other left-leaning candidates and causes use. Photographer: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PORTLAND, ME - JULY 6: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Cross Insurance Arena while campaigning in the Democratic presidential primary. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Supporters hold up signs at a campaign rally for Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S., on Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Sanders said he had attracted 200,000 donors as of mid-June and his campaign had raised $8.3 million online through June 17, according to FEC filings by ActBlue, the fundraising platform that he and some other left-leaning candidates and causes use. Photographer: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PORTLAND, ME - JULY 6: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Cross Insurance Arena while campaigning in the Democratic presidential primary. Sen. Bernie Sanders greets supporters after speaking in Portland. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 18: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to the crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center July 18, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Democratic presidential candidate spoke on his central issues of income inequality, job creation, controlling climate change, quality affordable education and getting big money out of politics, to more than 11,000 people attending. (Photo by Charlie Leight/Getty Images)
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Biden, who will soon make a decision about running, grabs 9% of the Democratic vote in New Hampshire. According to the poll, 46% of New Hampshire Democrats said they want him to enter the race, while 42% want him to stay out. His favorability ratings have increased by 14 points since March among Democratic voters, according to the poll.

The poll's release comes as Clinton is preparing to hand over to federal authorities her private email server and thumb-drive of work-related emails during her time as secretary of state, an unexpected move in an attempt to quash the burgeoning controversy.

Clinton remains the overwhelming front-runner in both national polls and surveys of the first-voting state of Iowa. According to a Real Clear Politics average of recent national polls, she leads by an average of more than 35 points nationally and more than 25 points in Iowa.

The Boston Herald/FPU poll, which was conducted from August 7-10, has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.7%.

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