Democrats Give Clinton Edge on Most Issues Over Obama, Edwards

by Joseph Carroll

Clinton lowest on handling moral values issues, tied with Obama

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Which of the leading 2008 presidential candidates -- Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards, or Barack Obama -- would best handle the nation's top issues as president? A recent Gallup Panel poll asked Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents this and found that Clinton rated as the best to handle 9 of 10 issues tested. Democrats view Clinton as particularly strong on healthcare, education, the economy, and energy. Clinton does less well on moral values issues, on which she and Obama are essentially tied. Edwards is competitive with Obama on a number of issues tested.  

Gallup's latest update on the trial heat for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 shows the New York senator in the lead, with 29% of Democrats supporting Clinton for the nomination. Obama, at 18%, and Edwards, at 13%, follow next behind Clinton.

Clinton, Edwards, or Obama Best on Issues?

According to the Jan. 25-28 survey, Clinton is, by far, the best positioned of the three Democratic hopefuls. She is rated the strongest of the three candidates to handle every issue tested, with the exception of moral values issues.

Clinton's particular strengths include healthcare and education; at least 6 in 10 Democrats say she would do a better job than Edwards or Obama would in handling both of these issues. A majority of Democrats also say Clinton would do the best job on the economy (57%) and on energy and the environment (52%).

Democrats also perceive Clinton would best handle terrorism, the situation in Iraq, relations with other countries, taxes, and crime, but with slightly lower percentages -- between 42% and 49% -- choosing her over Edwards or Obama on these five issues. 

The one issue on which Clinton does not do well is "moral values issues." A higher percentage of Democrats choose Obama (37%) than Clinton (32%), but the difference is within the survey's margin of error. Twenty-six percent say Edwards would best handle moral values issues.

Obama fares best on morality and handling relations with other countries. Edwards best performs on moral values issues, taxes, energy, crime, and terrorism, but still, at most, only about one in four Democrats say he would do the best job on any of the issues. Obama finishes ahead of, or ties with Edwards, on all of the issues in the poll. 

Clinton's dominance on the issues is not merely an artifact of her being better known by the public than are Obama or Edwards. The results are similar among Democrats who are familiar enough with all three candidates to rate each favorably or unfavorably.   

This same survey also asked Democrats to rate the three leading candidates on a series of personal qualities and characteristics. These results were analyzed in a separate report on galluppoll.com by Senior Editor Lydia Saad. (See "Clinton Eclipses Obama and Edwards on Leadership" in Related Items.)

Younger vs. Older Democrats

Obama fares better among younger Democrats (those younger than age 50) than older Democrats (those aged 50 and older) on almost all of the issues tested. Clinton is still rated as best at handling just about every issue among both age groups. 

One departure from this concerns handling foreign relations. Younger Democrats are equally likely to say Clinton (39%) and Obama (38%) would do the best job of handling relations with other countries, but among older Democrats, Clinton has the distinct edge.

Also, on moral values issues, Obama (44%) has a clear advantage over Clinton (31%) among Democrats between the ages of 18 and 49. But, among Democrats aged 50 and older, Edwards (35%) and Clinton (33%) are essentially tied as the best candidate to handle moral values issues. Just 27% say Obama would best handle this issue. 

Democrats' Picks for Democratic Candidates to Best Handle Issues
Results by Age

Jan. 25-28, 2007

18-49

50+

Clinton

Edwards

Obama

Clinton

Edwards

Obama

%

%

%

%

%

%

A. Terrorism

44

22

29

57

20

13

B. The economy

55

18

25

61

20

11

C. The situation in Iraq

43

19

31

53

18

19

D. Education

62

7

29

64

15

16

E. Healthcare

62

13

23

75

14

7

F. Moral values issues

31

20

44

33

35

27

G. Taxes

41

22

31

48

23

20

H. Relations w/ other countries

39

20

38

54

19

24

I. Energy and the environment

50

20

26

56

23

14

J. Crime

40

19

36

46

25

16

Democratic Men and Women

Within the Democratic Party, men and women share fairly similar views on which of the three candidates would do a better job on the issues. A majority or plurality of Democratic men and Democratic women choose Clinton as the best candidate for all the issues tested, except moral values issues. Female Democrats give Clinton larger advantages on taxes, education, and Iraq. But, men give Obama an edge on moral issues, while women are equally likely to say Obama and Clinton would best handle moral issues.

Democrats' Picks for Democratic Candidates to Best Handle Issues
Results by Gender

Jan. 25-28, 2007

Men

Women

Clinton

Edwards

Obama

Clinton

Edwards

Obama

%

%

%

%

%

%

A. Terrorism

47

25

25

51

18

21

B. The economy

57

18

21

57

20

17

C. The situation in Iraq

41

25

29

52

13

24

D. Education

55

13

29

70

8

19

E. Healthcare

66

13

19

68

13

15

F. Moral values issues

27

25

43

35

27

31

G. Taxes

37

25

31

50

20

23

H. Relations w/ other countries

44

19

35

45

20

31

I. Energy and the environment

49

22

24

55

20

18

J. Crime

41

26

26

43

18

30

Survey Methods

Results for this panel study are based on telephone interviews with 504 Democrats or Democratic leaners, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 25-28, 2007. Respondents were randomly drawn from Gallup's nationally representative household panel, which was originally recruited through random selection methods. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

11. (Asked of Democrats and independents who lean to the Democratic Party) Now turning to the issues, if you had to choose, which candidate do you think would do the best job on [RANDOM ORDER]as president -- [ROTATED: Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, (or) Barack Obama]?

BASED ON 504 DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRATIC LEANERS


2007 Jan 25-28


Clinton


Edwards


Obama

No opinion

%

%

%

%

A. Terrorism

49

21

23

7

B. The economy

57

19

19

5

C. The situation in Iraq

47

19

26

9

D. Education

63

10

24

3

E. Healthcare

67

13

17

3

F. Moral values issues

32

26

37

6

G. Taxes

44

23

27

7

H. Relations with other countries

45

19

33

3

I. Energy and the environment

52

21

21

6

J. Crime

42

21

28

9

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