A new poll finds if the next presidential election were held today, 46 percent of voters would choose a generic Republican candidate over front-running Democrat Sen. Hillary Clinton, who would get just 39 percent of the vote.

The survey, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, has the New York senator holding a narrow lead among women, 45 to 42 percent, while trailing by 17 points among men.

Conducted Dec.3-5, the survey of 1,500 likely voters had a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

An early Rasmussen poll found that 42 percent of Democrats believe Clinton is the party’s strongest candidate for 2008. Other survey data shows that 51 percent of Democrats want their next presidential candidate to be more of a centrist than John Kerry.

Many analysts believe Clinton is hoping to position herself as a moderate in the coming years, evidenced partly by her tough talk against illegal immigration and the hiring of illegal aliens by American employers.

Forty-five percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Clinton, while 42 percent have an unfavorable opinion.

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