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Clinton "Rating?"

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From the New York Times' lead story on Hillary Clinton's entry into the presidential race and the "race for the money" between Clinton and Obama:

Several New York and Hollywood donors offered a similar assessment: they liked Mrs. Clinton as a senator, but worried that her rating in a new Washington Post/ABC News Poll released Saturday was at 41 percent, despite having nearly 100 percent name recognition.

"Rating?" That's not the word I'd use to describe the 41% of the Democratic presidential primary vote preference that Clinton received on the Friday-night-special new poll released Saturday (and conducted Jan. 16-19) by the Washington Post and ABC News. That level of support is quite good considering that the question pitted Sen. Clinton against eleven other candidates. Candidates that begin with 41% (or even 35% or 30%) in a field that large are usually on their way to winning.

Also, the field includes several well known candidates. Barack Obama, who already boasts name ID of 75% on the Post/ABC poll among all adults, ran a distant second among Democrats (with 17%). John Edwards (roughly 80% recognition on other surveys) managed only 11%. And the two candiates with name ID about as high as Hillary's, Al Gore and John Kerry, netted just 10% and 8% respectively.

The unnamed fundraisers may have been speculating that -- on the Post/ABC poll at least -- roughly 46% support someone other than Clinton. Perhaps, but so far at least, surveys have not yet yielded evidence of an "anybody-but-Clinton" sentiment among a majority of Democratic primary voters nationally (though Iowa may be a different story). The most recent Gallup poll which had Hillary winning 29% to Obama's 18% in a field of 14 candidates, but leading 53% to 39% in a two-way matchup.

The Post/ABC poll did include a "rating" of Mrs. Clinton: 54% of the national sample of adults rated her favorably, while 44% rated her unfavorably. This result is mixed. Clinton's 54% favorable rating is a point higher than President George W. Bush received from likely voters on the Post/ABC poll a month before he was reelected in 2004. It's the 44% unfavorable rating among all adults -- the highest of any of the prospective candidates in either party -- that might be the bigger worry for those fretting about a Clinton candidacy. However, when it comes to the primary vote question, 41% of the vote is about as good as it gets in a field of twelve candidates.

Much more coming soon...