I’ve been pondering Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. She’s consistently WAY out ahead in the race for the Democratic nomination. While it is certainly not a sure thing she’s going to win it, I would feel reasonably safe betting on her. The general election numbers, however, are the odd things. While major polling outfits are finding her beating the top GOP candidates more often than they did even one month ago, some polls sometimes show a plurality of Americans would “never vote for Hillary Clinton.”

How can that be? How can Clinton defeat the top Republicans running for president when so many Americans say they’d never vote for her? To me, it’s simple. The answer to the second question is incomplete. Instead of “I would never vote for Hillary Clinton,” the obvious conclusion is, “I would never vote for Hillary Clinton unless she was running against a Republican – then I would vote for her.” Are you following me?

I believe the consensus that so many would never vote for Hillary Clinton while at the same time so many would if she were running against Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson or John McCain shows the artificial nature of Clinton’s non-support. Years of all manner of vitriol directed at her plays out in the polling data until people consider the alternative. Then she’s gold.

But it goes much deeper than that. Clinton wins over people wherever she goes. After each debate, unlikely sources begrudgingly admit how stellar her performance was. After the most recent debate last week, the leftwing magazine The Progressive, a source known for unbridled criticisms of the senator from New York, had to say “It was a masterful moment; one that, fairly or unfairly, inspired comparisons with the best performances of his husband, Bill.”

Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who previously called Sen. Clinton “shrill,” changed his tune after witnessing her debate. “You know what I realized? What I realized tonight — and I’ve used the word “shrill” to describe her — what I realized tonight is that it’s not shrill, it’s passion. And when I watched her — she would begin the answer, be very low key, and she would build. And you’d see the crescendo. I would see the reaction from them. The more that she went, and the more that she showed emotion, when she didn’t hold back, the better that she did.”

Speaking on Meet The Press yesterday, PBS Democratic debate host Tavis Smiley marveled at Hillary’s performance. “Essentially, this multi-racial group that you saw… came in overwhelming prepared to support Barack Obama. They left feeling that Hillary Clinton… had hands down won the debate.”

This shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed Sen. Clinton’s career. Consider her first senate run in New York where her negatives were also high. By working hard and knowing the answers to New York’s every question, she won over the electorate and won the election. And I believe people see that now. Sure, there is some hostility built into our psyche about powerful women, but we’re not blind. We understand that Clinton surrounds herself with smart, experienced people and we know, if elected president, there will be no on the job training period. The new Clinton administration will be operating at full capacity from day one.

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