What a drag

Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murray report on a recent survey by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake which suggests that Hillary Clinton may run poorly in “swing” congressional districts and, in doing so, may serve as a drag on incumbent Democrats. The survey (taken in August but not previously reported) encompasses the 31 districts held by Democrats that are considered by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee the most “imperiled” in 2008. It found that Rudy Giuliani leads Hillary Clinton by 49 percent to 39 percent in these districts. Among the same voters, Rudy and Barack Obama are effectively tied, with Giuliani “up” 41 percent to 40 percent.
Moreover, although the average lead of the Democrats holding these districts is 19 percentage points, that number sinks when the incumbent is tied to Hillary, or even Obama. Those in the survey were told the following before being asked whether they would support the Democratic congressional incumbent: “Some people say [your Democratic incumbent] is a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and will support her liberal agenda of big government and higher taxes if she becomes president.” With that preface, the margin dropped from 19 points to only 6 for both Clinton and Obama.
Of course, most of the Democratic incumbents in question probably can effectively combat claims that they support a big government, high tax agenda. But it’s unlikely that Clinton herself can do so.
On the other hand, it’s far from clear that, should Giuliani falter in the Republican primaries, his edge over Clinton would be transferable to the alternative Republican nominee.
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