A new poll indicates Obama does better against McCain than Clinton. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
(CNN) - It's a question both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have raised since John McCain's initial surge in the polls: Which Democrat can best take on the Arizona senator in a general election match-up?
A new Time magazine polls seems to suggest the answer is Obama.
The poll, conducted over the three days leading up to Super Tuesday, shows Obama beating McCain by 7 points, 48 percent to 41 percent. Clinton ties McCain at 46 percent.
The difference between the two candidates, according to Time, is where the Independent vote goes: The poll indicates a larger share of those voters will chose to support McCain over Clinton than McCain over Obama.
Exit polls taken from the early primary contests have indicated that both McCain and Obama have strongly benefited from the support of Independents. In combined surveys of the 22 states that voted on Super Tuesday, Obama beat Clinton among Independents by roughly 20 points. McCain, meanwhile, beat rival Mitt Romney among Independents by nearly 15 points on Super Tuesday.
Responding to the poll's findings, Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson touted the New York senator's vast differences with McCain on a host of issues, and pointed to a recent CNN poll that showed Clinton beating McCain by 3 points. Though that same poll found Obama beating McCain by eight points.
CNN's Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider says the biggest difference between Obama and Clinton is their support from male voters. In the CNN poll, Obama and McCain were nearly tied among male voters, but the polls shows men breaking for McCain over Clinton by nearly 20 points.
"Obama argues that he can reach across party lines," Schneider said. "And he does do a little better than Clinton with Independents and Republicans. But the big difference is that Clinton doesn't draw very well with men. Obama does."
Click here to read CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider's analysis.
- CNN Producer Alexander Mooney