Who is the most “electable” Democrat?

The Clinton campaign says Obama has general election problems, but a new poll has Edwards and Obama outperforming Clinton against Republicans.

Topics: 2008 Elections, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, War Room, John Edwards,

In a press release sent around this afternoon, the Hillary Clinton campaign is boasting that the shoe is finally on the other foot: “The new CBS/New York Times poll released yesterday reveals that voters — by wide margins — think Hillary Clinton is the Democrat with the best chance of winning the general election,” the press release says. “Nearly two-thirds of voters (63 percent), more than four times the number [who] chose Obama (14 percent), believe Hillary is the best bet for taking back the White House.”

Not quite.

The numbers the Clinton campaign is citing reflect the percentage of Democrats — and not “voters” more generally — who think that Clinton has the “best chance” of winning the general election. The CBS/NYT pollsters asked Republicans to say which Republican candidate has the “best chance” in the general election, but it appears that they didn’t ask all voters to assess all the candidates.

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So yes, Democratic voters see Clinton as the most “electable” of the candidates. But is she? Before the Clinton campaign goes too far with that argument, it ought to check out the new CNN/Opinion Research poll released today. In it, both John Edwards and Barack Obama do better than Clinton does in hypothetical head-to-head matchups with leading Republican contenders.

Edwards leads Rudy Giuliani by 11 percentage points, Obama leads him by eight, and Clinton leads him by six. Edwards leads Mitt Romney by 22 points, Obama leads him by 13, and Clinton leads him by 11. Edwards leads Mike Huckabee by 25 points, Obama leads him by 15 points, and Clinton leads him by 11. Edwards leads John McCain by eight points, Obama is tied with McCain, and Clinton trails McCain by two points.

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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