This week’s Rasmussen Reports poll update finds Sen. Hillary Clinton continuing to expand her lead over both of her top rivals, Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards. During the polling period of September 3- September 10, Clinton added five more points to her lead. Her support has grown from 38% last week to 43% this week, which is her second highest percentage since polling began earlier this year. Clinton’s twenty point lead over Obama 43%-23% is also her second largest advantage this year. 

In second place, the presidential campaign of Barack Obama continues to flounder. Obama has been at 23% in three of the past four weeks. He has not been above 25% since July 12, and he has not been within single digits of Clinton since the first week of June. Obama’s inability to craft a message that distinguishes him from Clinton has left him in a stagnant position. Too often, the Obama campaign does not give voters a reason to vote for Obama instead of Clinton. Democratic voters seem happy with the choices that they have been offered, which means that if the Obama camp wishes to make progress they have two options. They can either get people to like Obama more than Clinton, or run a more negative campaign against the frontrunner. The Obama camp has chosen to stay positive, and their decision has relegated them to second place status.

In third place, John Edwards continues to stay mired in the mid teens. His 14% represents a two point decline from his numbers from the previous two weeks. Edwards still hasn’t broken 20% in this poll, and even though he has a message that appeals to many Democrats, voters don’t seem to feel that he is presidential timber. They view Clinton as more experienced, and Obama as more talented, which means that Edwards is left in the position of being more, favored than those in the “second tier,” but not quite good enough to be considered with Clinton and Obama.

Among the other candidates in the race, Bill Richardson is fourth with 4%, Dennis Kucinich and Joe Biden are each at 3%, Mike Gravel and Chris Dodd are at less than 1%, and 11% of those polled were undecided. It seems unlikely that any of these candidates will gain support and join Clinton, Obama, and Edwards in the top tier. Within the top tier, it will probably take a scandal, serious mistake, or a resounding collapse in Iowa by Clinton for the door to be opened for Obama or Edwards. If Clinton keeps running a low key safe campaign, she is going to be very tough to beat for the nomination.

Rasmussen Reports weekly poll history

Related Rasmussen Reports article 

Jason Easley is the politics editor at His column The Political Universe runs on the site every Tuesday and Friday.

Jason also can be heard every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET on TPU Radio at

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