New Poll: Obama Inspirational But Can’t Win

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A new Washington Post poll today has a few interesting nuggets that help answer that nagging question of the current presidential campaign: “What happened to Obama?”

Buried deep in the data is a question about which presidential candidate has the best chance of winning the White House next year. Hillary Clinton stomps on all the closest rivals, with 57 percent of the poll respondents favoring her. What’s interesting, though, is that the runner up, with 20 percent, is John Edwards. Perhaps this is to be expected. After all, he’s run before. But given his fundraising prowess and media prominence, it’s surprising to see that Obama comes in a distant third in this category, at 16 percent. By comparison, 37 percent of those polled thought Obama was the most inspirational candidate, compared with 41 percent for Clinton and only 14 percent for Edwards.

Obama’s poor showing in the polls on the electability question is probably fatal. People obviously love Obama, but don’t think he can win in ’08. The Post doesn’t ask why people believe that, but it’s hard to imagine that race isn’t a big factor. It’s not that Democrats won’t vote for an African-American, but that they don’t believe Republicans will.

One question the poll can’t answer: If Obama can’t win, why are so many people giving him money?

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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