November 26, 2007

Clinton Trails All GOP Candidates: Zogby

Part of relying on polls for analysis includes knowing whether the pollster has credibility. Zogby Interactive has a reputation for questionable results, but it usually can at least identify trends. Their latest trend shows the inevitability of Hillary Clinton sinking the Democrats next year:

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton trails five top Republican presidential contenders in general election match-ups, a drop in support from this summer, according to a poll released on Monday.

Clinton's top Democratic rivals, Barack Obama and John Edwards, still lead Republicans in hypothetical match-ups ahead of the November 4, 2008, presidential election, the survey by Zogby Interactive showed.

Clinton, a New York senator who has been at the top of the Democratic pack in national polls in the 2008 race, trails Republican candidates Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mike Huckabee by three to five percentage points in the direct matches.

In July, Clinton narrowly led McCain, an Arizona senator, and held a five-point lead over former New York Mayor Giuliani, a six-point lead over former Tennessee Sen. Thompson and a 10-point lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Romney.

With Zogby's on-line polling system, one has to remain cautious about putting too much emphasis on any one result. Zogby also doesn't provide much of its methodology or sampling characteristics on its site. It's difficult, therefore, to determine whether they oversampled Republicans, which would have created the across-the-board shift seen.

However, other indications exist that tend to decrease the likelihood that this is a sampling error. Barack Obama and John Edwards maintained their head-to-head standing from previous Zogby polls, which strongly suggests that Hillary loses moderates to the GOP more than the other two candidates. Rasmussen hasn't updated their numbers in over a week on head-to-heads, but the trend for Hillary is downward there as well. And Rasmussen shows Hillary losing in Florida for the first time in its latest polling.

Clearly, Hillary's edge has eroded. Democrats have seen her as an inevitability, a candidate who has no peers and no competing organization. They had hoped that a return to the halcyon days of the Clinton administration would appeal to voters without Hillary's personal negatives impacting their decision. That assumption has been shown false; voters don't like Hillary in the way they liked Bill, or very much at all regardless of comparison.

Can this re-energize the Democratic nomination? Probably not. Her two closest competitors are empty suits, and it's far too late for more substantial candidates to jump into the race -- save one. If Al Gore decided to offer his services as a white knight candidate, Democrats might be tempted to give him a rare second opportunity at the brass ring. That's the risk and opportunity a Hillary collapse might present Gore and the Democrats.


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