Twenty-seven for 2008?

An early, early poll gives the edge to generic Democrats and John Edwards.

By Tim Grieve
Published January 22, 2007 2:16PM (EST)

With three more announcements over the weekend, CQ Politics counts 19 candidates more or less officially in the race for the White House in 2008 and an additional eight possible to likely candidates still to state their intentions.

Already in, or at least as far as saying they'll file papers for an exploratory committee: Democrats Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Vilsack and former Alaska Gov. Mike Gravel; Republicans John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, James Gilmore, Tommy Thompson, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul and Illinois attorney general John Cox.

Maybe still to come: Democrats Wes Clark, John Kerry, Al Gore and Al Sharpton; Republicans Newt Gingrich, Chuck Hagel, Mike Huckabee and George Pataki.

With as many as 27 candidates in the field -- and we don't have any doubt that a few more will emerge between now and then -- it's way too early to be picking any winners. Newsweek is trying anyway.

In a new poll, the magazine finds that a generic Democratic candidate enjoys a 21-point advantage over a generic Republican candidate for the White House. But once you start replacing generic candidates with real ones, things get a whose lot closer. Newsweek didn't try a head-on-head matchup with all 27, but it did test voter preferences among five perceived front-runners. The only outside-the-margin-of-error result: Edwards beats McCain, 48-43. Within the margin of error: Edwards beats Giuliani while Clinton and Obama beat McCain but lose to Giuliani.

Correction: We managed to get the details wrong on the longest of the longshots here: Democrat Mike Gravel used to be a senator from Alaska, not the governor, and Republican John Cox is an attorney from Illinois, but he's not that state's attorney general.

Tim Grieve

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

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