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Gaining Momentum

It's become quite the conundrum for Democrats: Ahead of 2008, some polls show Americans leaning toward supporting a generic Democrat for the White House over a Republican. The problem has been that when actual names are pitted against each other, many of the Democratic candidates aren't faring so well.

Even more of a head-scratcher? Democrats tend to be far more satisfied, even enthused, about their primary choices compared with Republicans, who may not be content even after former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson formally enters the race.

But in a recent Newsweek survey, the three top Democrats -- Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama -- led in every combination of matchups against the top four Republicans -- Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. It is crucial, however, to note that the poll was comprised of 40 percent Democrats, 29 percent Republicans and 27 percent independents.

For Democrats, the most precarious matchup may be Edwards versus Giuliani, as 48 percent said they would vote for the former North Carolina senator if the former New York City mayor was his opponent. Giuliani received 46 percent in that scenario. But Edwards stacked up best against Romney at 57 percent to 36 percent; the 21-point gap was the largest margin of all 12 heats tested.

Clinton was strongest of the three against Giuliani with her 7-point lead, and Obama was the biggest threat to McCain with his 10-point advantage. All three Democrats had double-digit leads over Thompson and Romney.

Newsweek pollsters also threw New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) into matchups including Clinton, Giuliani, McCain, Obama and Thompson. Although there has been much speculation over which party Bloomberg might hurt more should he jump into the race, both Clinton's and Obama's margins of victory increased in their head-to-head matchups against the GOP front-runners with Bloomberg in the field. (His support was just north of 10 percent in all six cases.)

Also of note in the survey were the primary fields, because while Obama trails Clinton by 16 points, 27 percent still supported him -- that's the same percentage of support as the top candidate in the Republican field, Giuliani. Of course, the Republican Party has the disadvantage of an unpopular president in office now. In a new American Research Group poll, President Bush's approval rating rests at a dismal 27 percent.

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