Despite doubts that she is too polarizing to win in the general election, and carries too much baggage from the scandal-plagued Clinton years, she has pulled away from her top challengers in all but the Jan. 14 Iowa caucuses, where she leads by a paper-thin 2.6 percent average in the polls.
Her performances in the presidential debates have only strengthened her popularity in the party that sees her, warts and all, as the only viable candidate to beat the Republicans next fall and restore the Democrats to power. As of last week, she was leading her closest rivals for the nomination by more than double-digit margins in all of the primaries that matter.
According to polling averages tracked by the Real Clear Politics Web site, the two-term New York senator now leads in the Jan. 15 Michigan primary by 16 percent, the Jan. 22 New Hampshire primary (which will be moved up on the calendar) by 20.5 percent, the South Carolina primary by 11.3 percent and the Florida primary, both held on Jan. 29, by a whopping 25 percent.
Should she hold her edge in Iowa, where she is in a statistical tie with Barack Obama and John Edwards, it would propel her into the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday primaries with virtually unstoppable momentum and the likelihood of winning the lion's share of the delegates at stake in more than 20 states that would all but nail down the nomination.
Her near prohibitive leads in the January sweepstakes underscore her double-digit advantage in the national voter surveys.
The Gallup Poll said last week that Clinton has maintained "a better-than-20-percentage-point lead for the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nomination ... since early August."
A compilation of all the major national polls conducted last month gave her an average spread of 18.8 percent over her three top rivals. A breakdown of the polling data further showed that, among Democrats, she now leads by an average of 41.8 percent, followed by Obama with 23 percent, Edwards with 14.3 percent and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson with 3.7 percent.
So, barring an unforeseen calamity, Clinton appears to be on a relatively easy flight path to the nomination over -- let's face it -- a pack of lightweight opponents.
Notwithstanding Obama's eloquence and the popularity of his crusade to end the poisonous toxicity of American politics, his vast inexperience, his empty record and his inability to fashion a galvanizing agenda for the country has doomed his candidacy from the start.
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