POLL: Clinton Advances, Strong in Base; Giuliani’s Lead has Less Oomph

It matters: Among Democrats looking mainly for strong and experience in a candidate — as opposed to a "new direction and new ideas" — 62 percent favor Clinton, while only nine percent in this group support Obama.

As the insurgent, Obama does far better — 31 percent support — among Democrats mainly looking for a candidate who offers a new direction. His problem is that Clinton now leads in this group as well, a turnaround from June.

Clinton's also had a 14-point gain since June in another attribute, the notion that she's best able to win the general election in November. Fifty-seven percent now see her as most electable, a perception possibly fueled by her steady campaign performance.

Among her relative weaknesses, substantially fewer Democrats see Clinton as the most "inspiring" candidate; Obama challenges her on this quality, 37 percent to 41 percent. And in her softest rating, 35 percent see Clinton as the most honest and trustworthy of the Democratic candidates; nonetheless, she also has gained some ground on this score since June.

On issues, as opposed to personal attributes, most of Clinton's advantages are enormous — notably on health care, on which she's issued a detailed proposal for full coverage. Two-thirds of Democrats prefer her approach on health care, vs. just 14 or 15 percent for Edwards or Obama.

In another measure of strength, 61 percent of Clinton's supporters say they're "strongly" behind her (as do 52 percent of Obama's). That's a notable accomplishment by Clinton, since "strong" support can dissipate as a candidate's overall support increases.

MONEY MONEY MONEY — Nor does Clinton appear to have been damaged by her financial support from now-indicted Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu. A quarter of leaned Democrats think Clinton's campaign engaged in improper fundraising; however, more, 44 percent, think most of the presidential campaigns do the same thing.

And notably, Clinton's support is so strong in her party that, even among those who think her campaign has engaged in improper fundraising, 43 percent support her for the nomination anyway — double Obama's support in this group. (Among those who don't see impropriety, more, 59 percent, support Clinton.)

WOMEN and BLACKS — While Clinton would make history as the first female nominee, her support's very strong among Democratic men (48 percent) as well as women (57 percent); indeed, her gain in this poll came predominantly among men.

Further, while 29 percent of Democrats describe themselves as feminists, Clinton does no better in this group (50 percent support) than among non-feminists (55 percent). And among Clinton's supporters, 72 percent say her sex is not a reason for their backing her; just 10 percent call it a major reason.

Clinton leads, as well, among African-Americans, a natural affinity group for Obama, since his father was black. Clinton, indeed, does as well in support for the nomination among African-Americans (51 percent) as she does among whites.

THE REPUBLICANS — Giuliani's support rests, to a large extent, on his performance as New York City's mayor on Sept. 11, 2001. His support peaks at 40 percent among Republicans who say he did an excellent job handling that crisis, and goes higher, to 48 percent, among those who think his 9/11 response shows how he'd perform as president.

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