Obama rising, but Clinton has not sank just yet

Yesterday's series of polls showed Barack Obama gaining ground across the country in his effort to topple Clinton's national lead. But while Obama clearly has the momentum going into Super Tuesday, Clinton is still ahead in most polls taken in most states. In fact, the only states in which Obama has been shown to have in any survey have been Colorado (one poll had him up 2), Connecticut (one poll had him up 4), Georgia, Illinois and Alabama (though new polls today have Obama down).

Things are going well with for Obama, but Clinton has not sank just yet. Obama might be getting very close to Clinton, but he has not closed the gap entirely just yet. And while he does not need to win a majority of the states to stay alive since the Democratic primary is now a delegate race, he still needs to get some victories here and there. The question then is whether Obama will have enough time in the next three days to capitalize on his momentum. And a series of polls released today suggests Clinton is still able to hold firm.

Gallup's national tracking poll had Obama gaining for nine consecutive days, pulling within 3% yesterday, 44% to 41%. Today was the first day with the entire sample being taken after Edwards's withdrawal, but it is Clinton that benefited the most! As Edwards dropped from 8% to 4%, Clinton rose from 44% to 48%, now ahead of Obama by 7%! The last day Edwards was in the race, the numbers were 42-36-14. Edwards has lost 10% since then, Clinton has gained 6% and Obama 5%, so the theory that Obama is benefiting the most from Edwards's withdrawal is not supported by this survey. Among Republicans, McCain has shot up at 44%, ahead of Romney's 24%. McCain has moved up 12% since Giuliani's withdrawal.

Edwards's withdrawal is also hurting Obama in Alabama, where two new polls have Clinton in the lead. Alabama is shaping up to be one of the most interesting Super Tuesday states, and also one of the most racialy polarized as Clinton dominates among whites and Obama among blacks. Yesterday's SUSA poll had the race tied at 47%. Today:

  • Rasmussen shows Clinton ahead 46% to 41%. She is helped by her decent showing among blacks, as she gets 30% -- much more than she did in South Carolina. But the electorate's racial polarization is revealed by this stunning internal: Only 51% of white voters have a favorable image of Obama, versus 82% of blacks!
  • Among the GOP, Rasmussen shows McCain holding to a lead even in this Southern state, ahead of Mike Huckabee 38% to 30%, with Mit Romney at 20%.

  • Insider Advantage came out with similar results in the Democratic race. Clinton is ahead 46% to 40%. Among Republicans, McCain is barely up 37% to 35% to Huckabee with Romney at 14%.
Obama was hoping to count on victories in Alabama and Georgia to complete a Southern strategy, which is what will make Alabama's results so interesting. Another Southern state in which Obama is trailing is Tennessee, where many polls have given a big lead to Clinton:

  • A new Rasmussen survey shows Hillary is ahead 49% to 35%. The electorate is even more polarized in this state, and Obama is having trouble to break through because the African-American electorate is smaller here than in Georgia or South Carolina. Obama is ahead 71% to 12% among blacks, while Clinton is ahead 61% to 23% among whites.
  • Rasmussen also polled the GOP contest and found a three-way contest between McCain's 32%, Romney's 29% and Huckabee's 23%.

  • A second Tennessee poll was released today by WSMV-TV and shows a tighter race, 36% to 30% for Clinton. But there are a massive number of undecideds as the poll apparently did not push them very hard at all. The internals are also off, as Clinton barely leads among females but has a large lead among men. The same is true of the GOP race, where Huckabee has 24%, McCain 23% and Romney 18%.
Next we have a poll from Missouri, another key battleground state on Tuesday for both parties which Obama has put at the center of his strategy and where Romney is hoping to perhaps derail McCain.

  • Yesterday's SUSA poll showed Clinton leading 48% to 44%. Today, a Rasmussen poll has Clinton further ahead, 47% to 38%. 11% of voters still support Edwards -- in a poll taken after his withdrawal. Just a week ago, Clinton was up 43% to 24%, with Edwards at 18%, confirming that Missouri could have been a strong Edwards state.
  • Among Republicans, the race is as close as can be, with McCain up 32% to 29% to Huckabee and 28% for Romney.
Missouri offers a perfect example of what I mean when I ask whether Obama will have enough time to catch up. He has made up a lot of ground in the past week, including in Clinton strongholds like New Jersey and New York. But Clinton was so ahead as of a week ago that her loss of 10-15% is still leaving her in the lead.

This poll is also a perfect illustration for the fact that Romney and Huckabee are preventing each other from overtaking McCain by coalescing the conservative vote. Because of the division of the anti-McCain conservatives, McCain will probably be able to coast to wins in most states with no trouble.

Finally, a new Chicago Tribune poll confirms that Obama has no trouble holding his home-state and that McCain is comfortably ahead in blue states:

  • McCain leads 43% to 20% for Romney, with Huckabee at 15%.
  • Among Democrats, Clinton trails by a massive 55% to 24% -- much superior to Clinton's lead in New York.
Clinton's main objective in Illinois is to cross the 15% viability threshold statewide (which she should have no trouble doing) and in each of the 19 congressional districts which could be difficult for her in some areas of the state. Consider, however, that if Clinton can get even 38% in a four-delegate district, she will force an equal split of delegates. If she gets 20% in a three-delegate, she will get one of three of the allocated delegates -- in other words 33%, much more than her share of the vote. Obama will force similar splits in New York, and it is because of such rules that the Democratic contest could still be a toss-up come Wednesday morning.

Update: In response to a comment, these polls do not tell us anything about the debate's impact just yet. The Rasmussen polls, for example, were all conducted on Thursday so they don't incorporate any swing the debate might have produced. Furthermore, Obama is rising in those polls, even among those he is still trailing widely in. The Rasmussen polls of Alabama and Missouri that have Clinton ahead had her leading by a much larger margin just a week ago, and Obama has surged by at least 10% in both of them. The point is that his rise is for now not enough to overtake Clinton, though things could still change in the next three days... in either direction.

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  • The Campaign Diarist strikes me as one of the very few political analists that have not fallen into a swoon with BHO. Quite an impressive feat!

    By Anonymous Europeanreader, At 02 February, 2008 16:03  

  • Taniel, I am an Iranian freelance journalist and blogger, following the primaries closely and report and anlayze the results and elections news in Persian for my readers. I love your blog and check it a couple of times a day and believe your coverage is really balanced unlike the MSM that is heavily biased against Mrs. Clinton. Having said that, I'm a little disappointed with the title of this post:"Obama Rising." This is not true, in regards to the polls that have come out today. In Both national polls from Rasmussen and Gallup, it is Hillay who has risen and in states such as Alabama Clinton is still polling well. You also didn't mention anything about the effect that the debate could have had on the public opinion. These new polls suggest that Mrs. Clinton might have won the debate(although the full impact of that may not be clear until tomorrow's polls.) Anyways, keep up the good work and and continue balanced reporting.


    By Blogger Kash Kheirkhah, At 02 February, 2008 16:48  

  • Great analysis as usual. Keep up the good work.

    By Anonymous stone621, At 02 February, 2008 19:27  

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