The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll released today shows the frontrunners of both parties solidifying their leads, although the Republican primary still looks wide open to Rasmussen. Both frontrunners have at least doubled up the number of their closest rival, and in Hillary Clinton's case, none of her competitors show any sign of reversing the trend She also has head-to-head leads on all of the Republicans, with Giuliani coming the closest to matching her in a general election. The news is not all good for either, however:
Clinton is favored for her party's presidential nomination by almost half -- 48% -- of Democratic-leaning voters nationwide; as The Times' Peter Wallsten writes, that gives her a formidable lead in the contest. Her number is right on track with the average of her support -- 48.5% -- in several other recent national surveys, as aggregated on the RealClearPolitics Website. And trend lines could hardly be more favorable for her -- as Clinton's backing has grown, Barack Obama's has not, as we noted earlier. He came in this time with only 17%.
The poll also found Clinton doing significantly better in potential general election matchups with the top Republican presidential contenders, compared with the results in a Times/Bloomberg poll conducted in June. Back then, she lost each of these faceoffs; now, she's ahead.
Still, there's that little matter of her favorability rating.
When a sample that included Democrats, Republicans and independent voters was asked their impression of the New York senator and former first lady, she just barely ended up in positive territory: 48% said they had a favorable view of her, 44% unfavorable (a difference that falls inside the margin of error for this question -- 3 percentage points, plus or minus).
Most important, she did not score as well with independents, who loom as such a crucial bloc in so many states. Among these voters, 42% gave Clinton favorable marks, 46% unfavorable.
Obama appears to be fading rapidly from the picture. When he entered the race in January after getting drafted by the activist Left, he started off amazingly strong. Despite facing the well-oiled Clinton machine, the novice outraised Hillary in both total dollars and numbers of donors in the first two quarters of the race. He remained a strong second place and gave every appearance of being the best option for the anti-Clinton wing of the party.
Suddenly, however, Obama looked like Icarus on a sunny day this summer. A series of rhetorical gaffes confirmed the impression that Obama didn't have the experience necessary to run a national campaign. His fundraising numbers began to slide, and his support went with it. In this poll, Obama is only four points ahead of John Edwards and two points ahead of Don't Know.
For the Republicans, the results may surprise some who thought that Rudy Giuliani would soon start to sink. He leads his nearest national competitor, Fred Thompson, 32%-15%. Rudy also leads in almost every demographic except among the self-decribed Religious Right and fundamentalists, where Thompson holds a slight edge. Rudy actually picks up two points among self-described conservatives in the poll.
At Rasmussen, those numbers look somewhat different. Rudy has only a 23%-19% lead over Fred Thompson, with Mitt Romney (15%) and John McCain (14%) close behind. Rasmussen still has Hillary beating all comers in head-to-head races, and the state polling data looks even more intriguing --- and depressing. In Michigan, Hillary only gets a majority against Fred Thompson in beating him by 13 points, but the best any other Republican does against her is -7 points (McCain and Romney). Ohio looks better, where all Republicans except Mitt Romney beat Hillary by a whisker (Mitt loses by eight points). Republicans all get positive favorability in Ohio, but Mitt fails to muster a majority. Ohio, despite problems with the state Republican Party, appears to be still a red state.
The LA Times/Bloomberg poll has some revealing internals, which I discuss at length today at Heading Right. Like the CBS polls, we have a lot of sampling issues which render the cross-party questions suspect.