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Posted by on Apr 15, 2008 in Politics | 3 comments

L.A. Times/Bloomberg Poll: Clinton Lagging In Pennsylvania And Indiana


In polling results that some websites and experts consider something of a surprise, a new L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll delivers a double whammy on Campaign 2008’s big confrontation between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic Presidential nomination:

1. Clinton’s campaign is now sagging in Pennsylvania and Indiana, despite her camp’s big push on highly publicized negative campaigning against Obama’s politically-unwise characterization of small-town Americans as “bitter” and “clinging” to religion and guns.

2. The firestorm surrounding Obama’s polarizing pastor may have actually HELPED Obama in Pennsylvania, where many respected the way Obama handled it.

The cautionary note is this: polls have been all over the place this campaign season and he (or she) who bets the house on them could wind up living in a cardboard box. And if you look at the poll, there are still lots of undecided voters. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has often contended that the undecideds will break largely for Hillary Clinton.

Some key details about the poll:

With three crucial Democratic primaries looming, Hillary Rodham Clinton may not be headed toward the blockbuster victories she needs to jump-start her presidential bid — even in Pennsylvania, the state that was supposed to be her ace in the hole, a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.

The survey found the New York senator leading Barack Obama by just 5 percentage points in Pennsylvania, which votes next Tuesday. Such a margin would not give her much of a boost in the battle for the party’s nomination.

Note THIS POST we ran earlier about a Clinton supporter now saying that any margin by Clinton would be a huge victory. The poll explains the moving of the goal posts.

What is more, the poll found Clinton trails Obama by 5 points in Indiana, another Rust Belt state that should play to her strengths among blue-collar voters.

In North Carolina, an Obama stronghold, he is running 13 points ahead.

The race remains volatile, however, because many likely voters in the Democratic primaries are still undecided — 12% in Pennsylvania, 19% in Indiana and 17% in North Carolina.

And then there is this:

However, voters were asked about another controversy that has dogged the candidate in recent weeks: racially incendiary comments made by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., the now-retired pastor of Obama’s church in Chicago. The furor prodded Obama to deliver a major speech on racial relations in America last month.

In Pennsylvania, the flap seems to have marginally helped Obama more than hurt him: 24% said his handling of the issue made them think more highly of him; 15% said it made them think less highly of him; 58% said it made no difference in their views.

Many Democratic voters, however, see Obama’s association with Wright as posing a problem for him in the general election — 46% in Pennsylvania said they expected it to hamper him in a contest with presumptive Republican nominee John McCain; in Indiana, 47% agreed with that, and in North Carolina, 42%.

Meanwhile, the LA Times’ Top of the Ticket blog also pointed to a message the poll conveys to Superdelegates who could decide the epic race:

And in what can only be seen as a message to the superdelegates who will likely decide who gets the Democratic nomination, majorities in all three states said they believe the superdelegates should back whichever candidate won the popular vote in the superdelegate’s state. So much for the “vote your heart” argument.

There’s some other interesting morsels in there too — such as Obama closing to within five points of Clinton in Pennsylvania, though the poll was conducted April 10-14 while the “bitter” controversy was playing out. Obama also had a five-point lead in Indiana, a Rust Belt state that should be playing to Clinton’s strength among working-class voters, and a 13-point lead in North Carolina. The leads in Pennsylvania and Indiana were within the poll’s margin of error.

Another surprise: The number of undecideds. In Pennsylvania, 12% said they still didn’t know for whom they were voting, a category that jumped to 19% in Indiana and 17% in North Carolina. That means in each state the undecideds exceeded the gap between the two contenders.

If Matthews is correct, that means anything could happen — which makes tomorrow night’s debate all the more dramatic…and vital.

Cartoon by Mike Lane, Cagle Cartoons

UPDATE: A reminder that polls are all over the place.