McCain trails Obama, but even with Clinton according to new poll

WASHINGTON -- Democrat Barack Obama would narrowly defeat Republican John McCain if they were matched today in the presidential election, while McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton are running about even, according to a new poll.

Obama outpaces Clinton in a matchup against McCain among men, minorities and moderates in an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Monday. And she does no better than Obama when pitted against McCain among two groups that have supported her in Democratic primaries so far: women and whites.

Recent primaries and Mitt Romney's departure from the Republican race have made McCain the heavy favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination. Clinton and Obama are locked in a Democratic battle that may take weeks or even months to resolve.

When she is paired against McCain in a general election matchup, she gets 46 percent to his 45 percent, a tie, according to the poll. Obama edges McCain, the Arizona senator, 48 percent to 42 percent in their pairing.

"We bring in voters who haven't given Democrats a chance" in the past, said Obama pollster Cornell Belcher, citing the Illinois senator's support from independents and other groups.

Mark Penn, Clinton's chief strategist, spoke of her backing from women and Hispanics and said, "Hillary Clinton has a coalition of voters well-suited to winning the general election."

In the Republican race, McCain is well ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 44 percent to 30 percent. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has 9 percent.

McCain has won more state GOP contests that Huckabee and is far ahead in the fight for delegates who will pick the Republican nominee. Even so, the poll illustrates that McCain will have to improve his standing within his own party if he is to count on solid GOP support in November.

McCain failed to win support from half of Republicans polled in the GOP race, showing he has yet to emerge as a clear-cut favorite among his party's rank-and-file.