Hillary: "Creating An Aura She Can Be Elected"

Jennifer Hoar is a producer for CBSNews.com based in Washington.
(AP/Charles Dharapak)
Hillary Clinton already has momentum in the 2008 presidential race and her performance in the candidate debates certainly confirms that. According to SurveyUSA News poll, 39% of respondents thought Clinton "won" the CNN/YouTube debate Monday night. What's more, political consultants affiliated with both parties agree that when it comes to debate performance, "top dog" status is hers to lose.

"She's the frontrunner and if no one else is winning the debates," says Democrat pollster Mark Mellman, "they're failing to get ahead of her."

In addition to "showing up" Barack Obama in the Monday debate, Hillary also succeeded in advancing the case that a woman can be president, says former RNC spokesperson Mike Collins.

"She is beginning to create an aura that she can be elected," Collins says. Plus, she's even helping those from her own party – from its center, specifically – to give her a second look.

While it is intuitive that Hillary's admirable performances are going to help her campaign, that doesn't necessarily mean that she's found any converts.

"Debates reinforce views voters have rather than change minds," Mellman says. He points out that the percentage of people who said she won Monday's debate are probably close to the percentage of people who are voting for her anyway.