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Poll: Democrats see Clinton as strongest, most experienced leader

  • Story Highlights
  • Clinton viewed as most electable candidate; one most likely to bring change
  • Clinton, Obama neck-and-neck when it comes to which candidate is most likable
  • 25 percent said they do not see Clinton winning the White House
  • CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polled potential Democratic primary voters
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(CNN) -- Potential Democratic primary voters see Sen. Hillary Clinton as more experienced and a stronger leader than her major rivals for the 2008 Democratic nomination, according to a poll released Monday.

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Sen. Hillary Clinton is considered the most electable Democratic candidate, according to a recent poll.

Clinton is also viewed as the most electable candidate and the one most likely to bring change to the country, according to the results of the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

However, Clinton did not score as high when registered Democrats were asked which of the candidates is the most likable and the most honest, the poll showed. And a quarter of those polled don't think she can beat the Republican standard-bearer in the general election if she gets her party's nod.

Asked which of the candidates in the race has the best experience to be president, Clinton was the choice of 59 percent, compared to 11 percent for former Sen. John Edwards and just 9 percent for Sen. Barack Obama, who is now running second to Clinton in national polls.

The poll's sampling error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

When asked to pick the strongest leader, Clinton again scored far ahead of her rivals, at 47 percent, compared with 22 percent for Obama and 13 percent for Edwards. She also came out on top when voters were asked who is most qualified to be commander-in-chief, with 46 percent saying Clinton, 15 percent Obama and 13 percent Edwards.

Despite Obama's concerted efforts to portray himself as the agent of change, 40 percent of poll respondents thought Clinton is the candidate most likely to bring change, compared with 27 percent for Obama and 15 percent for Edwards.

However, the poll found Clinton and Obama are neck-and-neck when it comes to which candidate is the most likable, with 34 percent picking Obama and 31 percent Clinton. Edwards was at 19 percent. Video Watch how Clinton may overcome the likability gap »

As far as who is the most honest, 28 percent said Clinton, 24 percent picked Obama and 19 percent chose Edwards.

Asked which candidate has the best chance of winning the November 2008 general election, 55 percent said Clinton, putting her well ahead of Obama, at 19 percent, and Edwards, at 12 percent.

When asked whether Clinton can beat the GOP nominee, 72 percent of registered Democrats said yes, while 25 percent said no.

However, she scored higher on that question than Obama. Only 57 percent of registered Democrats think he can beat the Republican nominee, while 37 percent don't.

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Many Republicans are convinced Clinton would be vulnerable in a general election, with too much political baggage to be electable. Her unfavorable rating in polls has hovered around 44 percent throughout the year, an uncomfortably high number for any candidate.

However, the average of five recent polls pitting Clinton against the current Republican front-runner, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, showed Clinton slightly ahead, at 46 percent to 44 percent. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider contributed to this report

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