Why Hillary/Obama Beat Out the Other One This Week

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Last Friday, we gave you arguments for why John McCain had either a good or bad week on the campaign trail, depending on who you ask. Today, we'll close out with another multiple-choice item from White House Correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh, this time on whether Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama stole the week.

First, take a look at this NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll (pdf, page 13). Hillary leads Obama 40 points to 28 among Democratic voters.

Advantage Clinton, right? Not necessarily. Here's a rundown.

Hillary Clinton's Campaign Discipline Impressed Democratic Strategists

Democratic strategists are increasingly impressed with the disciplined way in which Hillary Rodham Clinton is carrying out her plan to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

"She's running like she did for the Senate," says a former adviser to her husband who is neutral in the 2008 race. "She isn't doing anything flashy. She isn't making any dramatic moves. She's introducing herself to the nation as she did in New York, and she hopes she'll grow on the doubters."

Another part of her strategy is to demonstrate that she is a hard-working senator who knows the ways of Washington and can get things done. This pitch is designed partly as a dig at Obama, who has been in the Senate for two years and has drawn criticism for lack of Washington experience.

But Polls Give Obama Another Good Week

The Illinois senator, who has been barnstorming the country, is now about a dozen points behind Hillary Clinton among Democrats for their party's presidential nomination, a gain from a few weeks ago. Not a bad showing for a newcomer.

"The presidential election is the most personal of all political transactions, and on a personal level, Obama is an enormously gifted human being," says a Democratic strategist who has not taken sides as yet. "At his events, people want to be with him, talk to him. He has tapped into something very powerful. The American people want to turn a page and have a fresh start, and that's Obama's theme."

Democratic insiders say Obama's popularity suggests that the appeal of being the first serious African American candidate for president is at least as powerful -- and maybe more powerful -- than the appeal of being the first serious woman contender.