CBS Poll: Clinton, Obama Tied

Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007.
AP Photo
With only one full day remaining before voters in more than 20 states head to the polls on Super Tuesday, the races for the Democratic and Republican nominations could not be more different, a new CBS News poll finds.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are running neck-and-neck among Democratic primary voters, while John McCain appears to have solidified his status as the Republican Party's front-runner, opening up a wide margin over his nearest rival for the GOP nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The economy is likely to weigh heavily on the minds of Super Tuesday voters as they head to the polls - more than half of Americans now think the economy is in a recession and they believe overwhelmingly that the worst is yet to come.

The poll found that Clinton and Obama both have the support of 41 percent of Democratic primary voters - a drastic change from early January, when Clinton led Obama by 15 percentage points. While Clinton's overall support has remained steady, Obama has made significant gains among men, particularly white men, and African Americans. White male voters are split nearly evenly between the two Democrats, and Obama holds an 12 percentage point advantage among men overall.

Obama has also seen his support among women rise by 11 percentage points, and he now trails Clinton by only 7 percentage points among that group. He trails Clinton narrowly among Democrats but leads her among independent voters by 13 percentage points.

Clinton's edge on the question of electability has also evaporated as voters have seen Obama win by comfortable margins in Iowa and South Carolina while placing a close second to Clinton in New Hampshire and Nevada. The survey found that 46 percent of Democratic primary voters think Clinton would make the best general election candidate, while 41 percent said that of Obama - as recently as December, only 14 percent believed the Illinois senator made a better general election candidate.

Clinton holds a similar advantage on the question of which Democrat is most likely to win the nomination. Forty-five percent of those surveyed, including nearly one-in-four Obama backers, believes she will eventually prevail in her bid to be the first female presidential nominee of a major party.

The picture in the states voting on Super Tuesday is not nearly as close as the overall picture and offers some good news for Clinton. Among voters in those states, she leads Obama, 49 percent to 31 percent, with 16 percent still undecided.

Clinton also holds a big edge on the issue of most concern to Democratic voters: the economy. Nearly 60 percent say she would do a better job of managing the economy than Obama. However, more than two-thirds of Democratic voters see the policy differences between the two candidates as minor. .

Read The Complete CBS News Poll On The Republican Race
The Democratic Race
The Economy, Iraq and President Bush
There is still some fluidity in the Democratic race, with 14 percent saying they're still undecided between the two candidates. Also, over a third of those favoring Clinton and 42 percent of those leaning toward Obama say their minds could change before they cast their ballot.

The poll was conducted after John Edwards' exit from the race, but neither candidate appears to have gained an edge in the wake of his departure. Many of the undecided voters surveyed said they once backed the former North Carolina senator.

While the national race for the Democratic nomination appears to be a toss-up, John McCain seems on his way to effectively wrapping up the GOP nomination on Feb. 5, if not soon thereafter. He now has the support of 46 percent of Republican primary voters, compared to only 23 percent who support Romney and 12 percent who back former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.