In the latest edition of the Rasmussen Reports weekly Democratic poll update released today, Sen. Hillary Clinton lost four points of support from last week but she still leads Sen. Barack Obama by 15% and John Edwards by 27%. Last week, Clinton hit a new high for her campaign with 44% in this poll, but this week she lost four points to slip back to her pervious level of 40%. This is still the third consecutive week where she is at no less that 40%. Sen. Barack Obama gained three points this week, but that only returned him to his usual level of 25%. Obama has not been higher than 27% in this poll in thirteen weeks. He has never broken 40% in this poll, and the closest he came was 39% in the first week of July. This week marks the third time in the last six that Obama has been at exactly 25%.

For the second straight week, John Edwards is in third at 13%. Edwards has been at either 13% or 14% for the last eight weeks. In six of the past eight polls, Edwards has attracted exactly 13%. Since this poll started in January, Edwards has never been above 20%. The closest he has gotten to 20% was 18% back on May 21. Edwards’s best showing in the last three months has been 16%. Bill Richardson is in fourth place at 4%. Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich are tied for fifth place at 2%. Chris Dodd is at 1%, and Mike Gravel is at less than a percent.

We will have to see if this is the beginning of a bit of a slide for Hillary, or this is a one time slip. Interestingly she lost four points in the poll the same week that she defended lobbyists at the Yearly Kos convention, but Clinton’s slight decline may represent this race returning back to its natural equilibrium. Prior to doubling up Obama last week, Clinton’s lead had stayed in the 12%-18% range for a couple of months. Her current lead is the exact middle number in this range. It seems like that the only way this race is going to tighten up is if Obama or Edwards wins in the early voting states in 2008.

What has to happen for another Democratic candidate to have a chance is that the air of inevitability surrounding the Hillary Clinton campaign drive to the nomination has to be punctured. The best way for any candidate to create doubts about Clinton’s ability to win in November is to defeat her in the early voting states. If this occurs, and an Obama or Edwards can gain momentum, all bets are off. It appears that speeches don’t matter, debates don’t matter, and even media attention isn’t going to swing this race. If Hillary Clinton wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, then she will probably have a cakewalk to the nomination, but if another candidate can prove that they can beat her, there is potential here still for this race to swing.

Rasmussen Reports weekly poll table

Rasmussen Reports related article 

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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