This week’s Rasmussen Reports Democratic presidential primary poll update finds that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has rebounded a little and managed to cut frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton’s lead down to 16 points. Clinton now leads Obama 42%-26%. Even though her lead has slipped by a few points, the Democratic frontrunner remains strong. She is still the only candidate in either party to be 40% or more in the Rasmussen poll. She and Giuliani are still the only candidates to reach 35% or higher. The difference between Clinton and Giuliani though, is that he reached this mark early and then dropped and stayed down, but Clinton has steadily built support and continued an upward trend.

What is interesting here is that Obama appears to be taking support not from Clinton, but from two other contenders. Obama has gained four points from last week, but John Edwards and Bill Richardson each lost two points, and Hillary Clinton stayed the same. This week is the first time that Obama has been above 25% since July 12. The Obama campaign could be gaining some momentum, or what I think is more likely is that anti-Clinton voters are starting to gather behind the one candidate that they think has the best chance to stop her. If Obama could unify the Richardson and Edwards supporters behind him, then the Democratic primary race would be very competitive.

In third place, John Edwards is starting to look more and more like a long shot. His 12% support this week is his lowest since June 11. Edwards seems to have found his niche, but playing the role of angry, liberal, populist is not helping him gain ground on either of the two candidates ahead of him. His best shot at the nomination remains winning in Iowa. If Edwards fails to win in any of the early states, his campaign is likely over, and his supporters will move towards Obama.

In fourth is Bill Richardson, who dropped to 4% support. If I were Richardson, I would seriously consider dropping out of the presidential race and running for Senate in New Mexico, but I think Bill has his eyes on the V.P. slot. Sen. Joe Biden is in fifth at 3%. Rep. Dennis Kucinich is sixth at 2%. Sen. Chris Dodd is seventh at 1%, and Mike Gravel is eighth at less than a percent. Thirteen percent of Democrats remain undecided.

The bad news for all the candidates chasing Clinton came in the form of a Des Moines Register poll released Sunday that shows Clinton with 29% and ahead in the state by 6 points over Edwards. Clinton has recently been dedicating more time and energy to Iowa, and if she pulls off a win there, then she might be unstoppable. Right now, Obama and Edwards are locked in a 23%-22% virtual tie in the state. Edwards needs nothing short of a win, and Obama must have a solid and close second place finish in order to establish himself as the alternative to Clinton. This race looks like it is starting to become the two person affair that most people thought it would be.

Rasmussen Reports weekly poll history

Related Rasmussen article

Jason Easley is the politics editor at His column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which can be heard at every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET.



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