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Electability tips in Obama's favor

Some observers, myself included, have thought for some time that Obama would be a strong opponent against John McCain. Now, as the New York Times reports today, this view is more widepsread:

WASHINGTON — In the past two months, Senator Barack Obama has built a commanding coalition among Democratic voters, with especially strong support among men, and is now viewed by most Democrats as the candidate best able to beat Senator John McCain in the general election, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

After 40 Democratic primaries and caucuses, capped by a winning streak in 11 contests over the last two weeks, Mr. Obama has made substantial gains across most major demographic groups in the Democratic Party, including men and women, liberals and moderates, higher and lower income voters, and those with and without college degrees.

But there are signs of vulnerability for Mr. Obama, of Illinois, in this national poll: While he has a strong edge among Democratic voters on his ability to unite and inspire the country, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York is still viewed by more Democrats as prepared for the job of president. And while he has made progress among women, he still faces a striking gender gap: Mr. Obama is backed by two-thirds of the Democratic men and 45 percent of the women, who are equally divided in their support between the two candidates. White women remain a Clinton stronghold.

When all voters are asked to look ahead to the general election, Mr. McCain is more likely to be seen as prepared for the presidency, able to handle an international crisis and equipped to serve as commander in chief than either of the Democratic candidates.

Even so, the poll provides a snapshot of Mr. Obama’s strength after this first, frenzied round of primaries and caucuses, which knocked seven of the nine Democratic candidates out of the race. For the first time in a Times/CBS poll, he moved ahead of Mrs. Clinton nationally, with 54 percent of Democratic primary voters saying they wanted to see him nominated, while 38 percent preferred Mrs. Clinton. A USA Today/Gallup Poll released Monday showed a similar result, 51 percent for Mr. Obama to 39 percent for Mrs. Clinton.

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