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Clinton's Three Questions

By Jon Cohen
As Hillary Rodham Clinton ponders her options, there are three questions she is asking superdelegates to consider.

1. Which candidate best represents the will of the people who voted?

Clinton relates this to the "popular vote," and for good reason. The phrase has special resonance with Democrats, particularly since 2000. Also, in an April Post-ABC poll, nearly half of Democrats nationally, 46 percent, said undecided superdelegates should make their candidate choice based on who has won the most overall votes; only 13 said they should focus on who won the most (delegates) in primaries and caucuses. Thirty-seven percent said the superdelegates should pick the candidate they find "best."

Of course, it is altogether unclear whether more voters cast ballots for Clinton or Obama. The math is complicated not only by whether to count Michigan (where Obama pulled his name from the ballot), but also because several caucus states do not release vote totals. By some scenarios, Clinton is ahead, while Obama leads in others. The bottom line is that the two candidates are exceedingly close with only two contests remaining.

The current preferences of Democrats across the country is less of a toss-up. It has been nearly a month since Clinton has had an advantage over Obama among Democrats in any national poll. In the most recent Post-ABC, 53 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they wanted Obama to be the party's nominee, 41 percent preferred Clinton. And in California, where Clinton won on Super Tuesday by 10 percentage points, a new Field poll shows a majority of California Democrats favoring Obama.

2. Which candidate is the best able to lead Democrats to victory in November?

In the May Post-ABC national poll, Democrats gave Obama a better than 2 to 1 advantage over Clinton as the more electable candidate.

3. Who is best able to lead the nation as president?

This question is answered in part by their current standings in the national Clinton vs. Obama polls, but even on the question of who is the stronger leader, Obama has overcome what was once a core Clinton advantage. In the most recent Post-ABC poll, 49 percent of Democrats called Obama the stronger leader; 42 percent said so of Clinton. Before Super Tuesday, Clinton had a wide, 24-point margin on this question.

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 2, 2008; 10:19 AM ET
Categories:  The Pollster  
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