Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wright Controversy Damages Obama, An Update

This entry's a follow-up to my earlier post, "Wright Controversy Damages Obama, Polls Find."

Last weekend Hillary Clinton appeared to open up a gap in polling over Barack Obama, on the heels of the Wright sermon controversy.

Yet, the results of
a new Wall Street Journal poll finds Clinton and Obama in a statistical dead heat:

The racially charged debate over Barack Obama's relationship with his longtime pastor hasn't much changed his close contest against Hillary Clinton, or hurt him against Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducts the Journal/NBC polls with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, called the latest poll a "myth-buster" that showed the pastor controversy is "not the beginning of the end for the Obama campaign."

But both Democrats, and especially New York's Sen. Clinton, are showing wounds from their prolonged and increasingly bitter nomination contest, which could weaken the ultimate nominee for the general-election showdown against Sen. McCain of Arizona. Even among women, who are the base of Sen. Clinton's support, she now is viewed negatively by more voters than positively for the first time in a Journal/NBC poll.

The latest survey has the Democratic rivals in a dead heat, each with 45% support from registered Democratic voters. That is a slight improvement for Sen. Obama, though a statistically insignificant one, from the last Journal/NBC poll, two weeks ago, which had Sen. Clinton leading among Democratic voters, 47% to 43%.
But hold on, here comes Michael Barone with an analysis of the week's polling trends, which indicate some deterioration for Obama:

Has Barack Obama been hurt by his association, now revealed to most American voters, with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright? Has the pope been hurt by his association, among people who don't like Catholics, with the Roman Catholic Church? The numbers from Rasmussen Reports supply some answers—mostly in the direction of yes.

The key dates here are March 13, when ABC News ran its report of Wright's rantings, and March 18, when Obama made his speech in Philadelphia in which he condemned some of Wright's remarks but refused to renounce him. Keep in mind that Rasmussen's numbers represent those on, typically, the last three nights (or the last night) before the date of the release.
Check the whole thing.

Barone indicates that Obama's unfavorables have been inching up, a trend coinciding with John McCain's favorables ratcheting upwards. That analysis is combined with some general election matchups in which McCain beats Obama in the general election, giving the Arizona Senator an edge in key states important for an Electoral College victory.

Apparently, these trends have not gone unnoticed among Democratic Party big wigs, and while things are dynamic, similar trends have been reported by Gallup, for example, in its post today, "
Democratic Groups Most at Risk of Deserting."