Clinton slips behind Republican foes in new poll

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Democrat Hillary Clinton would lose to all major Republican White House candidates, according to a hypothetical election matchup poll Monday, reversing her months of dominance over potential 2008 challengers.

The Zogby International poll was the latest sign that withering attacks on the former first lady were chipping away at her opinion poll leads just 38 days before the Iowa caucuses, the first party nominating contests.

In the new survey, Clinton trailed Senator John McCain 42 percent to 38 percent, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani by 43 percent to 40 percent and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney by 43 percent to 40 percent.

She also lagged behind former Arkansas Republican governor Mike Huckabee by 44 to 39 percent, and former Senator Fred Thompson by 44 to 40 percent in hypothetical general election matchups.

Clinton’s top Democratic challengers Barack Obama and John Edwards however would still beat their hypothetical Republican rivals in potential 2008 contests.

In July, Clinton held a five point lead in the same poll over Giuliani, edged out McCain by two points and had a clear lead over other contenders.

A Rasmussen poll last week had Clinton also falling behind Giuliani in a hypothetical matchup of the November 2008 general election, and narrowly beaten by McCain.

An average of all previous similar polls gives Clinton a narrow lead over possible Republican candidates.

While the US political system of awarding delegates by state in a general election would not necessarily translate into a Clinton election defeat on the basis of the poll, it may provide more fodder for her opponents.

Clinton has repeatedly portrayed herself as the most electable Democratic candidate who could stand up to Republican assaults in a general election.

But Obama and Edwards are increasingly starting to challenge that claim, as the race heats up, as other polls suggest that Clinton’s clear lead in the Democratic White House race may be narrowing.

The Zogby poll was conducted online among 9,150 likely voters across the United States between November 21 and 26, and carried a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.

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