Polls don’t agree on any one number, but a spate of new polls show a trend: steady and significant increases for Senator Barack Obama in his increasingly-bitter contest with Senator Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination.
If there is a truism this year, it’s this: polls — unless it’s the poll taken when voters vote on election day — need to be taken with a huge chunk of salt. But a pattern is emerging in new polls. Here’s a look at a few of them and none provide good news for the Hillary Clinton campaign:
TEXAS: There’s an old joke: “Two silkworms had a race. They wound up in a tie.” Obama and Clinton are now tied in Texas — one of Clinton’s “firewall” states — according to a new poll:
Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are in a statistical dead heat in Texas, according to a poll released eight days before the state’s crucial presidential primary.
In the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Monday, 50 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said Obama is their choice for the party’s nominee, while 46 percent backed Clinton.
But taking into account the poll’s sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for Democratic respondents, the race is a virtual tie.
Clinton had a statistically insignificant 50 percent to 48 percent edge over Obama in last Monday’s CNN/ORC poll in Texas.
“The 2-point gain for Obama and the 4-point drop for Clinton are both within the poll’s sampling error, so although the survey appears to indicate some movement toward Obama, we cannot say for certain that he has gained any ground since last week,” said CNN polling director Keating Holland.
Two recent polls by other organizations also show the race statistically even.
The pattern for Obama in many races this year has been that he starts out behind, but then starts to gain and by election day in most (but not all) cases winds up ahead of Clinton. One theory; the polls don’t measure new and young voters he’s attracting on election day.
Survey/USA Poll says Obama is up four points in Texas:
In a Democratic Primary in Texas today, 02/25/08, 8 days till votes are counted, Barack Obama moves ever-so-slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton, though at the edge of the margin of sampling error, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted for KTRK-TV Houston, KTVT-TV Dallas and KRLD-AM radio Dallas. Today, it’s Obama 49%, Clinton 45%. Compared to a SurveyUSA tracking poll released one week ago, Obama is up 4 points, Clinton is down 5 points.
OHIO: Obama Gains On Clinton In Ohio Dem Primary Quinnipiac University Likely Voter Poll Finds; College-Educated Voters In Big Shift To Obama:
Buoyed by a big shift among college-educated voters, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is gaining on New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who now leads 51 – 40 percent among Ohio likely Democratic primary voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
This compares to a 55 – 34 percent Clinton lead in a February 14 likely voter poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. College-educated voters back Sen. Obama 58 – 33 percent, compared to a 46 – 41 percent Clinton lead with these voters February 14.
On the eve of the only televised debate between the two Democratic contenders in Ohio and just one week before the crucial March 4 primary, Sen. Clinton’s large margins among women, 53 – 36 percent; older voters, whites and those without a college education keep her out front.
“Sen. Clinton’s lead remains substantial, but the trend line should be worrisome for her in a state that even her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has said she must win,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “A week is an awful long time in politics to be playing defense, but one thing going in her favor is that she is viewed more favorably than is he by Ohio likely Democratic primary voters.
“Sen. Obama, to no one’s surprise given his momentum nationally, has made inroads, especially among some of Sen. Clinton’s softer supporters,” said Brown. “If she is to stop his momentum in Ohio, she must retain her margins among her core backers – women, older voters and those lower on the social-economic and education scale.”
If there is an absolutely MUST-WIN state for Clinton, this is it. If she wins by a narrow win, it won’t be helpful to her, either.
NATIONALLY: Obama is surging, CBS reports:
A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds Barack Obama with a 16-point lead over rival Hillary Clinton among Democratic primary voters nationwide.
This can’t portend well for Clinton in the remaining primary states.
Obama, coming off 11 straight primary and caucus victories, had the support of 54 percent of Democratic primary voters nationally. Clinton had 38 percent support.
In a CBS News poll taken three weeks ago, shortly before Super Tuesday, Obama and Clinton were tied at 41 percent. Clinton led by 15 points nationally in January.
The former first lady has lost her advantage among women, according to the poll: The two leading Democrats now have even levels of support among female primary voters.
Men, meanwhile, disproportionately favor Obama. He leads Clinton among male Democratic primary voters 67 percent to 28 percent, and leads among white men 61 percent to 33 percent.
Fifty-nine percent of Democratic primary voters said Obama has the best chance of beating likely Republican nominee John McCain in the general election. Twenty-eight percent said Clinton is most likely to win in November.
In other words: the inevitable isn’t seen that way anymore, nor is the electibility issue operative among most Democrats.
Obama is now seen as the likely Democratic nominee: More than two-thirds of Democratic primary voters said they expect the Illinois senator to win the nomination.
When all registered voters were asked who they favored in a head-to-head general election match up between Obama and McCain, Obama led by 12 percentage points, 50 to 38 percent.
Of course that will change. Obama is unlikely to find the general election campaign — if he gets the nomination — to be a cakewalk.
McCain remains highly popular among some of the same independent voters who favor Obama. And if McCain doesn’t have Obama’s charisma, he is a highly charismatic candidate who comes off quite likable on the tube, has stage presence, and seems to wear well with voters. Obama may also find the GOP machine is more efficient than the Clinton machine.
MORE BAD NEWS FOR CLINTON NATIONALLY: Another poll says Obama is perceived as the most electable:
The sense that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is more electable than Hillary Rodham Clinton has trumped concerns about whether he has the experience necessary to be a good president, a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.
The air of inevitability that once surrounded Clinton has shifted to the Illinois senator, now seen by seven in 10 Americans as the likely Democratic nominee.
In a poll taken Thursday through Sunday, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say by 2-1 that Obama has the better chance of beating the Republican in November. Republicans agree: By more than 3-1, they say likely GOP nominee John McCain has a better chance of beating Clinton than Obama.
That’s true even though Americans are split, 46%-46%, over whether Obama, a first-term senator, has the experience to be president. In contrast, Clinton is seen as having enough experience by 2-1, McCain by 3-1.
There’s also bad news for Clinton and others who suggest Obama leads a movement or a kind of “cult” leader: most voters don’t feel that way.
Still, 29% of those who say Obama doesn’t have enough experience support him against McCain. Other priorities determine their votes. Those surveyed rank “leadership and vision” and positions on issues as more important than experience.
“Obama has transitioned from a movement leader to a presidential leader,” says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, saying he has “crossed the threshold” to being judged able to handle the job.
But USA Today’s Lake notes that Clinton could still make a comeback by winning Texas and Ohio. Additionally, Obama could then be hyped as the front-runner and Clinton relegated to underdog — which could create sympathy for her.
What does it mean?
(1) By most accounts, if Clinton loses Texas and Ohio it will effectively be over for her. If she wins just one, she could stay in the race but even then it may be hard to convince superdelegates, raise money, and resist pressure from party elders for party unity ASAP.
(2) Most of the things now thrown at Obama haven’t worked.
(3) Tuesday’s Ohio debate becomes more VITAL than ever if Clinton wants to shake up the trends. So look for authentic fireworks.