WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton is riding a surge that has her beating all comers, Democrat or Republican, thanks to Iraq and a strong start to her presidential campaign, polls say.
Four surveys in the past few days find the New York senator with double-digit national leads over fellow Democrats Barack Obama, John Edwards and non-candidate Al Gore.
The latest, a Marist College survey, has her with double the support of Obama or Edwards and with five-point leads on Sen. John McCain or ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani in a general election match-up.
“She hasn’t made a lot of mistakes in the campaign,” said Marist’s Lee Miringoff, who thought Clinton’s uptick comes in part from her showing in the Democratic presidential debate two weeks ago and in part from a strong overall start.
Her edge over Giuliani and McCain likely stems from the public’s unhappiness with the Iraq war. “The Republicans are all tied to Iraq,” Miringoff said.
Iraq has not hurt Clinton, even though she voted to let President Bush go to war. “With Iraq, she’s made a successful effort to minimize fallout among Democrats,” Miringoff said.
Clinton strategist Mark Penn said the debate helped. “People reframed the race, that it was about being ready to be President,” he said.
Another factor is some bloom coming off Obama’s rose after all the attention he got for being new and equaling Clinton’s fundraising efforts. “We’ve gone through a phase where people talked about buzz,” Penn said. “I think now we’re in a phase were people talk about experience.”
Miringoff said Obama has hasn’t yet taken his campaign to the next level “He had a wonderful start to the campaign,” Miringoff said. “Now he needs more.”