Although it looks like Sen. Hillary Clinton might run away with the 2008 Democratic nomination, if she did, she would face a tough general election match up with soon to be formally declared GOP candidate Fred Thompson. In a new Rasmussen Reports poll, Clinton and Thompson each receive 45% support. These numbers are comparable to how Rudy Giuliani matches up with Mrs. Clinton. The same poll also found that Clinton now leads Mitt Romney by only four points in their potential match up. In the past month Clinton has lost five points in both of these match ups. The problem for Clinton still remains that she is a widely unpopular figure outside the Democratic Party.

While Democrats give her an 80% favorability rating, the nation as a whole is much more divided about Hillary. In this latest poll, Clinton polarizes the survey sample. 49% of those asked have a favorable opinion of the New York senator, and 48% have an unfavorable opinion. What is most interesting here is that 97% of those asked already had an opinion about her. This means that it will be difficult, at best, for her to reshape her image into something that would garner more support. Hillary Clinton still maintains the strongest base of supporters, but against any of the GOP contenders, she does not get more than 50% support. Each of the seven Republican candidates matched up against her consistently receive 41%-46% regardless of who, or how well known, they are.

Judging from this poll, it would appear that the Republicans best chance for the winning the 2008 election comes with the Democratic nomination of Hillary Clinton. In a best case scenario, Clinton and her opponent will divide the nation’s vote 50-50. Her nomination will probably result in another closely contested election, just like in 2000 and 2004. Fellow Democrats Barack Obama and John Edwards each have more upside as potential nominees. Both of these gentlemen consistently outperform Clinton in these head to head match ups with Republican contenders.

In many ways a Clinton nomination would be a Godsend for the GOP. It is certain that the 2008 election won’t be about Bush, Iraq, health care, or any other issue, if she is nominated. Instead, the 2008 election will be a referendum on Hillary Clinton, and this is the type of election that Democrats won’t do well in. The GOP made both the 2000 and 2004 campaigns about their Democratic opponent. This is how they won both elections. With half of the electorate already not liking Hillary, you can see how this plays into the Republican strategy perfectly. Democrats need to realize that the worst thing they could do would be to nominate Hillary Clinton. Contrary to all of her public statements, she can’t win in November, and this poll is just one in long line of many that point this out.

Link to the Rasmussen Reports poll

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

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at

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