Because, apparently, regular polls don’t give vague enough snapshots of Americans’ political opinions, Gallup has now conducted a survey of attitudes on the presidential candidates using a “feeling thermometer” rating scale. “Only one — Barack Obama — stirs up warm feelings in a majority of Americans,” the study found. “However, Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and John McCain are all close to Obama in favorability. Clinton’s image is the most polarized of this group: nearly as many Americans say she leaves them cold as say they feel warmly toward her.”

But Joe Gandelman at his “independent thinker’s” blog, The Moderate Voice, points out that “Gallup notes that in getting a nomination these national rankings don’t outline the whole story. What’s important is how candidates are perceived within THEIR OWN party ­ and on that score Ms. Clinton is in good shape. Gandelman continues:

Expect Clinton’s foes ­ within and outside her party ­ to look at this poll material and adjust their campaign’s strategy and tactics accordingly. Most likely Republicans and Democrats will seek to drive up her negatives and perhaps even try to bait her into getting into situations that show her in the worst possible light. On her end, Clinton will have to continue to make the case that she can gain wider support than she has ­ and have it be increasingly evident in poll numbers as primary season unfolds.

Diane Meyer at Respublica, however, feels the real losers are the American people: “What’s mind boggling is the high percentage of people taking the poll who answered “never heard of” in response to Thompson, Biden, Romney, Richardson, Huckabee, and Brownback. Are these people living in a media free zone?

A “media free zone”? At the risk of losing my paycheck, I’d still like to see Gallup do a “feelings” poll on that concept.