Sanders now leading Clinton in national poll ahead of Vatican visit

Hillary Clinton reacts as her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders tries to hand her a piece of paper during Thursday's debate. © Lucas Jackson
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has now passed his opponent Hillary Clinton in a new national poll released the same night as their big debate in New York.

Just days before the crucial primary, the Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Sanders topping Clinton by one point among 635 registered Democratic voters, 49 percent versus 48 percent.

Among all Democratic and Democratic-leaning independent voters, Sanders has a bigger lead of 47-42 and crushes Clinton by 16 points among self-identified independents.

Eleven percent of participants said they wouldn't vote for either.

The survey took place between April 9-13, before their heated televised showdown on Thursday and the Vermont senator’s trip to the Vatican to talk about global poverty with the presidents of Ecuador and Bolivia, among others.

The presidential hopefuls held nothing back in their final debate before Tuesday’s New York primary, which Clinton needs to win to offset the current Sanders winning streak.

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The pair clashed on topics ranging from Wall Street, gun control, and the minimum wage. At one point, moderator Wolf Blitzer from CNN warned them, "If you're both screaming at each other, the viewers won't be able to hear either of you."

Blitzer may have been overcompensating for the criticism he received after moderating a Republican debate in February, which also featured a lot of “screaming at each other”.

By the end, he seemed to have completely ceded control of the debate,” wrote Slate’s Isaac Chotiner. “Blitzer’s questions were soft, and his follow-ups indirect…it was a failure of hosting.”

While a quick trip to the Holy See might seem like it’s taking Sanders away from the campaign trail at a critical time, he’s hoping to appeal to millions of Catholic voters in New York, who make up 38 percent of the state’s population.

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Sanders previously praised Pope Francis for his “radical” views about “some of the most important [issues] facing our world.”