Are Dems getting a boost in Pennsylvania's general election?

Confusion continues to surround the state of the Pennsylvania primary, with different polls attributing momentum to both candidates in the past few days. After appearing to rebound in a number of polls two days ago, today's two polls suggests the race is heading towards toss-up status:

  • Zogby finds Clinton to be leading Obama by 4% in a race characterized by a large gender gap and a larger racial gap.
  • Temple University shows a sensibly similar result, showing Clinton up 47% to 41%. Clinton gets 55% of the female vote and 32% of the male vote.
  • This poll provides interesting data points to measure the claim that Obama brings more disaffected voters to the polls: While 27% of Obama supporters say they have never voted in a primary before, versus 18% of Clinton supporters, only 55% of Clinton's say they follow public affairs most of the time, versus 63% of Obama's backers.
The wide disparity that polls are registering is making it impossible for the campaigns to set expectations. Besides the obviously significant results (an Obama victory, a Clinton landslide), how will intermediary ones be perceived? A single-digits victory by Clinton will undoubtedly be perceived as insufficient for her to dent Obama's growing inevitability, while a low double-digit victory would result in some heavy spin by both campaigns. Considering that the conventional wisdom has now incorporated the tightening of the race, simply crossing the "Ohio threshold" could prove enough for Hillary to claim a resounding victory. What do you all think -- what margin does Clinton need to survive beyond April 22nd?

Meanwhile, Rasmussen released another poll from Pennsylvania today -- this one testing general election match-ups. And it shows some solid results for Democrats:

  • Clinton beats John McCain 47% to 38%, practically the same margin claimed by Obama (47-39).
  • A month ago, McCain narrowly edged out both Democrats. McCain's favorability rating has declined to 50%, while both Democrats have marginally improved theirs (57% for Obama and 53% for Clinton).
Pennsylvania numbers have been particularly disastrous for Democrats for much of the year; McCain often comes in stronger in the Keystone State than he does in Ohio. At the beginning of the Pennsylvania campaign, however, I explained that the primary dragging on was not necessarily a bad thing for the party and that "a 6 week long campaign in Pennsylvania could go a long way towards locking that state in the Democratic column come November."

News that Obama had been spending millions every week to cover the state's airwaves with ads only reinforced this argument: Obama has been blanketing one of the most crucial general election swing states with positive spots introducing himself, giving himself a head start in the general election race. Naturally, the increasing polarization of the Democratic primary makes it very possible that the eventual nominee will have trouble bridging the rifts among Pennsylvania Democrats, but I maintain that the PA campaign has been too civil for Democratic cohesion to be truly endangered.

Rasmussen's poll shows a big shift in the past month -- though we obviously need much more than one poll to conclude that there is evidence of a trend. The two other institutes that poll the state with any regularity are Strategic Vision, which recently showed slight movement in McCain's favor and Quinnipiac, which showed both Democrats slightly improving their numbers from mid-February to early April. A few more general election polls will hopefully be released soon after the April 22nd primary to give us a better idea of how the Democrats' position in Pennsylvania was impacted by this 6-week campaign.

In other polling news, Rasmussen finds that, as expected, Democrats should not count Louisiana's 9 electoral votes and a national poll suggests the general election is increasingly tight:

  • In Louisiana, McCain crushes Clinton 58% to 36%. Obama is a bit more competitive, trailing 52% to 41%. Hillary's favorability rating is a dismal 37%, far from McCain's 64% and Obama's 53%.
  • The AP-Ipsos national poll suggests that Obama's lead against McCain has collapsed since February 24th, when he led 51% to 41%. Now, the two are tied at 45% -- with McCain's taking a crucial lead among independent voters. Hillary Clinton, who led McCain by 5% in February, remains ahead 48% to 45%.

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  • It does seem from the latest polls that Taniel was right about the Democratic primary helping the party (so far!) Interesting to see that Obama does as well as Clinton in the GE regardless of who wins the primary. Same result in Ohio, this puts paid to any suggestion from the Clinton camp that if Clinton wins the primary only Clinton can then win the state in the GE.

    Predictions for PA - Clinton needs to win by 15%+ because PA is whiter, poorer and less educated than OH and she won 10-11% there so her margin needs to be bigger. Also the influence of money is less since you can spend 6 weeks campaigning.

    Clinton cannot complain about Obama spending more, she has $100 million of her own money she can spend (like Mitt)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11 April, 2008 18:37  

  • The "show" has much more benefit than I think most people realize. Obama needs to pay attention to those numbers regarding his support among Democrats. Hillary is doing a better job of appealing to Obamans than Barack is with her base. We need ALL the voters in Nov. regardless of who's the nominee. The prospect of triangulating against McCain has me very optimistic. He's in the crossfire for months to come. I'd feel better if our nominee had a twenty point lead in Oct.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11 April, 2008 21:08  

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