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Some Hill-side erosion

November 6, 2007 |  4:05 pm

A new WNBC/Marist poll found significant erosion in national support for Hillary Clinton after last week's roughing up during a Democratic debate, dropping from 52% to 43%.  Most polls still show her with a lead of about 20 points, so she has some room to give, but that kind of drop has got to be on the agenda at the campaign's daily strategy sessions.

The poll apparently didn't ask questions specific to the Oct. 30 debate, so it's risky drawing direct links to her performance (partway through the Hillary-pillory fest she began to look vulnerable and seemed to lose her command of the high ground).  But the debate occurred during the time the poll was in the field, from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1.  Interviews conducted the day before and the day of the debate found 52% support for Clinton among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.  That dropped to 43% during interviews conducted two days after the debate.

It could be some voters are just getting tired of her.  Or maybe early lukewarm support is beginning to shift as the primaries and caucuses get closer and voters pay more attention.  It could also be a statistical glitch, and single polls need to be looked at within that context.

But the daily Rasmussen poll has found some erosion, too, albeit much smaller.  And the Real Clear Politics graph tracking averages has a severe little button hook on the right end, too, though that downturn began before the debate.

So it looks like something's going on, it's just unclear what, exactly, or how much it might affect the overall landscape of the race.  But you can bet Barack Obama, John Edwards and the rest of the Democratic field will try to turn that little slide into an avalanche.

The question they face: How do you push Clinton downhill without tumbling after her?

-- Scott Martelle

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