Clinton, Giuliani most electable, poll finds

Two New Yorkers – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R) – have the greatest chance of being elected president in 2008, according to a new Gallup Poll.

In a nationwide sample of 1,018 adults taken Feb. 22-25, 74 percent of Americans ranked both candidates' chances as either excellent or good.

Of all the candidates, Senator Clinton got the highest "excellent" score – 24 percent – and Mr. Giuliani came in second with 20 percent. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois came in second among the Democrats, with 19 percent "excellent" and 52 percent "good." Among Republicans, Sen. John McCain of Arizona ranked second, with 16 percent "excellent" and 54 percent "good."

Voters of all political affiliations were asked to rank the candidates of both parties. Among Democrats, Clinton got 90 percent excellent or good and Senator Obama came in second with a total of 74 percent. Former Sen. John Edwards (D) of North Carolina came in a strong third among Democrats, with 64 percent.

Among Republicans, Giuliani got 82 percent excellent or good and Senator McCain came in second with 73 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, came in a distant third among Republicans, with just 38 percent saying his chances are excellent or good.

Republican voters also ranked Obama's chances of being elected (66 percent) higher than Clinton's (58 percent).

In the early going, when voters consider whom to back in the primaries and caucuses, electability can factor into the decisionmaking. This year, the top candidates all have characteristics that give some voters pause – whether it be gender, race, religious affiliation, number of marriages, age, experience, or issue positions. Some voters may not vote for their first choice, thinking that candidate would have a smaller chance of winning in the general election.

In head-to-head matchups, Clinton beat Obama among all polled (not just Democrats) 50 to 45 on electability. Giuliani beat McCain 53 to 45.

Wednesday night, McCain declared on "The David Letterman Show" that he will formally announce his candidacy in April. McCain has been slipping in the polls lately among GOP voters and appeared to be trying to regain momentum. Gallup asked respondents if McCain's strong support for the Iraq war, including the surge, made them less likely to vote for him; 33 percent said "much less likely," and 11 percent said "less likely."

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