WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton announced this week that she had topped chief rival Barack Obama in third quarter donations and now the New York senator is leading the Democratic field by a whopping 33 points in the latest national poll.
According to the Washington Post-ABC News survey, Clinton’s lead has expanded over the Illinois senator, and is now at 53 percent to 30 percent among Democrats and Democratic-leading independents surveyed between Sept. 28 through Sept. 30. Her support is up 12 points in just three weeks while Obama's has fallen 7 points. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards ranked at 13 percent.
The news of the poll comes on the heels of Clinton’s latest fundraising report, in which she took in $22 million to Obama’s $19 million for primary spending. Clinton also raised $5 million for the general election, while Obama raised $1 million in the last three months.
Obama still leads Clinton in fundraising for the year — about $75 million to her $72.5 million, and $10 million of that was from her 2006 Senate race. Campaign reports indicated Clinton also brought in 100,000 new donors to Obama’s 93,000.
Meanwhile, the Post-ABC News poll indicates that 53 percent of Democrats surveyed think the former first lady has the best chance of winning in 2008, up 14 point from the last poll in June. Obama falls behind Edwards on this question 16 percent to Edwards’ 20 percent.
The poll also dispels the theory that Clinton is considered too polarizing, even within her own party, to win in the general election. On every question concerning her standing among Democrats, she sails ahead of her opponents. Regarding Iraq, 52 percent of those surveyed trust her most — that's compared to 22 percent who trust Obama on the war and 17 percent who trust Edwards. On health care, 66 percent are putting their trust in her leadership, compared to 15 percent for Obama and 14 percent for Edwards.
Also on Wednesday, Clinton snagged the plum endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers, which will translate into major boots on the ground for Clinton as the competitive primary contests near, and in the general election, when it will be essential for Clinton, if she is the nomination, to get as many Democrats out to the polls as possible.
"Our members have told us that they want a leader they can trust to strengthen public education, increase access to healthcare, promote commonsense economic priorities and secure America's place in the world," said AFT President Edward J. McElroy. The AFT boasts 1.4 million members. "Hillary Clinton is that leader."
Half of the 1,114 adults surveyed say Clinton best embodies the core values of the party. Clinton leads among both men and women, and for the first time a majority of married women — 56 percent — are backing her. She leads strongly among whites and has a narrower but still double-digit lead over Obama among African American voters, 51 percent to 38 percent.
Meanwhile, support for Obama stands at its lowest point since he entered the race in February, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll.