SUSA complements primary polls with avalanche of general election surveys

  • Primary polls have Clinton up in two key states
Two primary surveys released today point to Hillary Clinton's advantage in some upcoming states, including a surprisingly big lead in a state that is supposed to be closer:

  • In Pennsylvania, Franklin & Marshall released a survey showing Clinton leading 51% to 35%. This is an improvement for the New York Senator, who led 44% to 32% in the group's previous poll.
  • The favorability ratings of both candidates are also very instructive. In the past month, Obama has gone from 57-16 to 47-25, a significant plunge (and this is among Democratic voters only), while Clinton is still viewed favorably by 65% and unfavorably by 18%.
  • In West Virginia, Rasmussen released a poll today showing Clinton up 2:1, 55% to 27%. West Virginia votes on May 13th.
Rasmussen's survey is the first poll we have seen from West Virginia, so it is clearly a relief for Hillary to see that she is so favored in the state, which was not necessarily a given. As for Pennsylvania, Clinton's has been steadily increasing her baseline double-digit lead since March 4th to the extent that a 16% lead almost looks disappointing for her right now.

  • General election: McCain picks up ground but Obama holds his own
Following the string of 9 catastrophic general election polls released yesterday (including three from SUSA in OH, KY and MO), today's delivery of general election surveys is almost a relief for Democrats, as it can reassure them that they have yet to lose all the advantages they had amassed in the past few months. And SUSA followed up yesterday's releases with an avalanche of polls today, many of which were less dramatic for Obama.

We'll look more at the detail of the swing state surveys:

  • In New Mexico, both Clinton and Obama lead McCain 51% to 45%. That's a six point improvement for Clinton in the past two weeks and a one point decline for Obama.
  • Obama gets much more cross-over Republicans, Clinton more independents. And Clinton does better among Hispanics, 65% to Obama's 56%.
  • Great number for Democrats in the traditionally red state of Virginia, where Obama edges McCain 48% to 47% and where Clinton ties him at 47%. That's a 10 point improvement for Clinton and a one point improvement for Obama over the past two weeks.
  • Obama is slightly stronger than Clinton among independents and Republicans, and weaker among Democrats. Clinton is also weak among black voters (63% only, versus 84% for Obama).
  • In Minnesota, Clinton leads McCain 49% to 46% but the Republican edges out Obama 47% to 46%. That's an 8 point decline for Obama and a 1 point decline for Clinton.
  • In Iowa, it's the inverse: Obama leads McCain 50% to 44% but McCain leads Clinton 48% to 44%. That's a one point improvement for Clinton and a three point decline for Obama.
  • The difference is among Republicans (Obama gets 14% and Clinton 5%) and among independents (Obama leads by 12, Clinton trails by 2).
  • In Wisconsin, the race is also very tight: Clinton edges out McCain 45% to 44% and Obama beats him 48% to 44%. That's a 3% decline for Clinton and a 7% decline for Obama.
  • There are here again noteworthy differences: Obama leads independents by 2% but Clinton trails by 19%. Clinton balances that by her strength among Democrats, 85% versus 74% for Obama.
  • In Washington, Clinton is ahead 50% to 45% and Obama 52% to 41%. That's a significant improvement for Hillary who trailed in the state three weeks ago.
  • In Oregon, Clinton leads 5o% to 44% and Obama 5o% to 41%. That's also a significant shift in Clinton's favor as she was led by 5% three weeks ago. Generally Clinton has had trouble in WA and OR, so it is good for her to be ahead in both.
  • And then there is Massachusetts which is competitive even though it should not be: Clinton leads 55% to 42% and McCain manages the stunning feat of tying Obama at 47%. There have been many polls that have shown Obama in trouble in this blue state. Obama trails among independents and only gets 66% among Democrats in what represents a 7% decline for him in the past 2 weeks.
  • We also got a MA poll from Rasmussen, pointing to a more positive picture for Dems: Clinton leads 54% to 35% and Obama 49% to 42%. Even that is too close for comfort for Obama.
We also got a number of polls from less competitive states:

  • In California, Clinton is up 56% to 38% and Obama 54% to 40% -- that's a 3% improvement for Obama and 6% for Clinton, though she only gets 64% of black voters, while Obama is a bit weaker among both Democrats and Hispanics.
  • In Alabama, McCain crushes Clinton 56% to 38% and Obama 62% to 35%, a 13% decline for Barack in 2 weeks. Obama gets 62% of Democrats, Clinton 64% of blacks.
  • In Kansas, McCain leads Obama by only 51% to 39%. Clinton is trailing 55% to 36%.
  • In New York, Obama is only up single-digits, 52% to 44% (a 6% decline). Clinton leads 54% to 41%.
The last poll I will cite is CBS's national poll that has Obama up 48% to 43% and Clinton up 46% to 44%. Worth noting that McCain was trailing by 12% against Obama last month, so this is actually a positive trendline for him -- though he clearly trails.

All candidates have good news in those polls: McCain is generally strengthening his position, Clinton is as well and while Obama is on the decline in most states he remains in a very strong position in a number of key contests (Virginia, Iowa, New Mexico, for example, all states won by Bush in 2004). Contrary to yesterday's 9 polls, these general election surveys point to are balancing from the polling excesses of the end of February: At the height of Obamania, Clinton was constantly distanced in polls and Obama was riding high. Now, the latter is back down to more normal levels and Clinton is back up to where she likely always truly was.

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  • I get the impression that you're spinning a much more extensive projection than the data will bear - not because of any quantitative error, but because you're working from data that reflects the immediate impact of the Wright situation. It seems to me that the important data set - which we're weeks away from seeing - is the permanency of the impact.

    Despite the pontificating from experts of every persuasion, we just don't know how much of this will stick to Obama in the longer term But I suppose it's always more fun to predict looming disaster than to reserve judgment.

    By Anonymous zoot, At 21 March, 2008 06:07  

  • I am amazed that Clinton has a higher net favourability (with lower unfavourability) than Obama.

    Clinton is bound to be heavily favored in Kentucky and WV since she did well in Ohio and will do well in PA. The voting blocks are similar - under educated, downscale voters. Obama does not need to win those - NC , OR, MT and SD are the states he will win in the next two months.

    I think the bad press of the last few weeks will also pass and he will be stronger for it. Since he will have been "vetted" and the Clinton campaign cannot say the press was biased against her. She will be running out of excuses for still being behind in votes and delegates - amazing for someone 3 months ago who was the front runner and the inevitable candidate - how the mighty have fallen!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 21 March, 2008 06:14  

  • I agree we will have to wait a week or two to assess the impact of the race debate in the polls. After last nights passport story and the Richardson endorsment this AM I thought the media would move on, but cable news is still talking race and riligion. The passport story will only matter if it can be tied to the Clintons; an unlikely prospect. Tieing it to the Bush crowd doesn't matter, as he is not running and we expect this sort of stuff from them. I suspect the passport story will pop up every so often as new information is exposed but without any salacious video it is unlikely to have a huge impact. The one good thing for Obama from all of this talk about his Christian church is that it may put an end to all this Obama is a Muslum BS.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 21 March, 2008 08:41  

  • It sounds like people keep treating the latest poll numbers as the last word. Yes, I watch them with apprehension. But the general election is seven long months away, and much will change.

    Attention will, perhaps, turn to issues where the candidates differ far more in the general election than in the Democratic primary. Stay in Iraq indefinitely? Put the nation's treasury further in debt by extending tax cuts for the wealthy? What kind of role should the federal government have in health care?

    Once those issues come back into the headlines, then the polls will move again. I'm all for using today's numbers as a starting point, but we should be aware that there will probably be some big swings between now and November.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 21 March, 2008 15:30  

  • when you have single-digit lead in traditionally DEEP BLUE states of New York and Massachusetts.

    Losing MA will take a win in Missouri or Virginia to offset.

    Losing NY and nothing can save him.

    This is equivalent to Republicans nominating a guy who has to classify Idaho and Mississippi as "swing". Richardson's endorsement today will only push the party one step towards the edge of the cliff.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 21 March, 2008 18:52  

  • I'm a black female Captain in the U.S. Army. I have served for over 20 years and I love my country...I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the world.
    Obama and his links to Rev. Wright/Rezco is bad judgement....and blacks need to own up to it and STOP making excuses for Obama & Wright.
    Before this story broke, I spoke to my 14 & 12 year old daughters about not hanging around those who have a bad reputation or continuously do negative things, because others will believe they are the same way....Obama should have had the intelligence to also know this by now!
    Wright should NEVER use the pulpit to voice political rhetoric...regardless if they are true or not. The pulpit is ONLY for God's word.
    I distastefully saw people...mostly young....crying, worshipping, and idolizing Obama at his rallies...calling him the Messiah. In my gut I saw trouble coming because of this.
    The ONLY Messiah is Jesus Christ. When Obama didn't ask these young people to tone it down, and when he himself rellished from being in the spotlight....he lost my vote. NO ONE puts him/herself on a pedestal acting as if they are Jesus Christ...ONLY Jesus Christ can do that. And why on earth would a Christian preacher (Wright) give a lifetime achievement award to a Muslim......Farrakhan???? As a Christian, this is very suspicious to me.
    Futhermore, I also blame white college kids who are Obama's core supporters. They also spew hate all over the Internet in defense of Obama 24/7. They blindfully supported Obama WITHOUT researching his platform....then alot of other whites followed suit.
    Bottom line....Obama needs to withdraw from the presidential race and the people of Illinois can deal with him and his Senate seat.
    Every candidate/man of God....including Obama and Wright, need to be held to the same standard...regardless of the color of their skin.
    If Obama was a white candidate....lets say Hillary Clinton and Wright was a white preacher....they would be fried by the media, black politicians and me....and rightfully so!
    I have been saying to family & friends for a year that Obama wasn't ready YET to be President...maybe in 8 years or a Governorship FIRST. Remember, you never want to set a person up for failure.
    As a Captain in the Army, my superiors would never put me in a position that I wasn't trained/ready for. The same should be the standard for the office of the Presidency.
    Experience for Obama is just NOT there yet. However, Obama's chances of holding a political office in the future is gone...probably forever.
    Superdelegates, you have an obligation to choose the best candidate NOT the most popular.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 21 March, 2008 18:57  

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