A new Rasmussen Reports poll released today finds the Democratic race virtually unchanged from previous weeks. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is now favored by 38% of Democratic voters which is down one point since the last time this poll was taken on July 2. Despite his strong second quarter fundraising number, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) still trails Cinton by double digits. Obama has been stuck at around 25% in this poll since the end of April, and this week was no different for him as he was supported by 26% of those surveyed, which is the same number as last week.

Speaking of campaigns stuck in neutral, for the third week in a row John Edwards received 13% support. Among the second tier candidates, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is favored by 3%. Sen. Chris Dodd, Sen. Joe Biden, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich each have 2% support. Mike Gravel has less than 1% support, and 13% of those asked were undecided. Over the last three months Hillary Clinton has been steadily gaining ground with Democratic voters in this poll. Her average support for the past four weeks is 38%. For the four week period before that, she was at 35%, and in the four weeks previous to this, she was at 32%.

Interestingly, a sizable number of Democrats still aren’t convinced that Clinton or Obama will win the nomination. 46% of all voters still believe that the Democrats will end up nominating a white male for president, while 38% say that the Democrats aren’t likely to do so. Many Democrats also seem unconcerned about Clinton’s lack of national popularity. Recent hypothetical head to head match ups have her tied with both Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, but Clinton keeps repeating the mantra over and over again that she can win in November, and a sizable amount of Democrats believe her. Democrats should keep in mind that John Kerry was nominated in 2004 because he could win in November, and that didn’t turn out so well for them.

Both Clinton and Obama would be well advised to avoid any stumbles because John Edwards may be a distant third, but he seems to be content to sit back and wait for one of the two candidates ahead of him to stumble. He remains one of the most liked Democrats, and does better in the head to head match ups with the Republican candidates than both Clinton and Obama. I think that Clinton’s lead can be chalked up to her name recognition, and her husband’s popularity within the Democratic Party. Obama’s lackluster performances at every single debate so far, may be hindering his ability to close the gap Clinton. In each of the debates, she has gone out of her way to appear presidential. Unless Hillary Clinton stumbles badly at some point, it is getting tougher not to see her as the eventual Democratic nominee.

Link to the Rasmussen Reports poll

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at

www.411mania.com/politics 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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