Gallup Poll: Wright Hurt Obama Among Independent Voters And Democrats
Yesterday we ran a post about a CBS/New York Times poll that said Democratic Senator Barack Obama has rebounded after denouncing his former pastor — but a new Gallup poll reaches a different conclusion: it concludes Obama has been wounded among independent voters and Democrats.
It also finds that Clinton’s husband former President Bill Clinton is also a highly divisive factor among many voters.
Meanwhile, Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination Senator Hillary Clinton has now pulled into the lead among both Democrats and independents:
Barack Obama’s national standing has been significantly damaged by the controversy over his former pastor, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, raising questions for some voters about the Illinois senator’s values, credibility and electability.
The erosion of support among Democrats and independents raises the stakes in Tuesday’s Indiana and North Carolina primaries, which represent a chance for Obama to reassert his claim to a Democratic nomination that seems nearly in his grasp. A defeat in Indiana and a close finish in North Carolina, where he’s favored, could fuel unease about his ability to win in November. Such results also could help propel Hillary Rodham Clinton’s uphill campaign all the way to the Democratic convention in August.
In the USA TODAY survey, taken Thursday through Saturday, Clinton leads Obama among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents by 7 percentage points, the first time in three months she has been ahead. Two weeks ago, before the controversy over comments by Jeremiah Wright reignited, Obama led by 10 points.
As we’ve said half-jokingly here, the contradiction in polls means fierce partisans can pick the one they agree with and point to it as accurate, and try and discredit the other as based on faulty methodology. But they better to it quickly: tomorrow’s North Carolina and Indiana primaries will provide a measure on where Obama and Clinton stand.
One-third of likely voters say Obama’s ties to Wright make them less likely to vote for him. But Obama isn’t the only candidate with divisive connections: One-third of likely voters say Clinton’s association with Bill Clinton, her husband and the former president, makes them less likely to support her.
Meanwhile, 38% say McCain’s link to President Bush makes them less likely to vote for him.
However, there’s also an upside to the question for Clinton and McCain. Hillary Clinton’s ties to her husband make 18% of Americans more likely to support her, and McCain’s ties to Bush make 7% more likely to vote for the Arizona senator. Just 1% of likely voters say Obama’s links to Wright make them more likely to support him.
The survey makes it clear the Wright controversy has grabbed public attention. Eight of 10 Americans have been following it, most of them closely.
“Anytime you have a situation where it changes the focus of the race from instead of talking about the economy it gets to talking about something else — it does change the dynamic,” says Nathan Smith, an uncommitted superdelegate from Kentucky.
If Tuesday’s results wind up much as the often contradictory polls show — with Obama winning North Carolina and Clinton winning Indiana — the issue will then become how Obama will deal with the Wright issue if he gets the nomination, because the GOP most assuredly will use it (and the weath of inflammatory Wright video) against him.
Unless the Obama camp has a game plan, it could mean he will be less marketable to independent and some Democratic voters and will not be as appealing to GOPers as he seemed to be earlier in the year before Wright surfaced as an issue. And if he gets the nomination he’ll be running against the one Republican who is popular among some independent voters and Democrats.