By Jose Serrano ( | First Posted: Dec 17, 2015 01:59 PM EST

(Photo : web)

Nearly 60 percent Democrats and Democrat-leaning voters support Hillary Clinton as the Party's presidential nominee, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.

The former Secretary of State's lead over Bernie Sanders didn't grow from the same poll taken last month - she still holds a 33-point lead over the Vermont senator - but Clinton did draw undecided voters and those who initially considered fringe candidates like Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb, who fell under one-percentage point.

"Clinton successfully ran the gauntlet this fall, appearing before the Benghazi Committee and outlasting the specter of a (Joe) Biden candidacy. She really hasn't lost ground since then," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.  

Twenty-two of those surveyed in September selected Biden, despite the former vice president's adamant denial that he would run. Nearly all his support swayed in Clinton's direction as a majority of Biden's supporters (22 percent) ultimately decided Clinton would be the preferred candidate.

Sanders received 26 percent of the vote - up from 24 percent in November - and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley rose to four percent.

Unlike a similar poll released of Republicans on Monday, Democratic voters cited economy and jobs (27 percent) as the most pertinent issue heading into the 2016 election. Thirty-nine percent of GOP voters though national security and terrorism were the top issue, followed by the economy.  

The biggest difference among potential voters came in prioritizing education and gun control. About 30 percent of Democrats believe education was either the first or second most important issue, compared to eight percent of Republicans. GOP voters are less likely than Democrats - 9 percent to 20 percent) to consider gun control.

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