Sen. Hillary Clinton holds a large early lead over other top candidates in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, said a national poll in The Washington Post.

New York’s Clinton was the favorite of 41 percent of Democrats polled, more than double the 17-percent, second-place rating scored by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record), the Post said.

Former Sen. John Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee, placed third at 11 percent, with former Vice President Al Gore at 10 percent. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 presidential nominee, came in at 8 percent.

The poll was taken before Clinton announced her candidacy on Saturday. Obama entered the race on Tuesday and Edwards jumped in last month.

The Post said in hypothetical general election matchups of Clinton and top Republican candidates, the former first lady “narrowly leads Arizona Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) and is running about even with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.”

The Washington Post-ABC News poll was a January 16-19 random sample of 1,000 adults, including 561 Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents, with a 3 percentage point error margin.

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited

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