Friday polls: Will Clinton get a post-PA boost?

Three days after the Pennsylvania primary, Hillary Clinton might have gotten a boost from her Tuesday victory if we believe Gallup's tracking poll. Clinton has recovered from a 10% deficit on April 22nd and has forced a statistical tie, with Obama ahead 48% to 47% in today's results which include interviews conducted on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Gallup adds, "Support for Clinton is significantly higher in these post-primary interviews than it was just prior to her Pennsylvania victory." Gallup also finds Clinton jumping to a lead against McCain, 47% to 45%, while Obama narrowly trails, 46% to 45% -- the first time in a while Clinton's trendline is better than Obama's in Gallup.

Clinton benefited from a similar boost of support in the days immediately following the ABC debate but the race quickly fell back to its pre-debate form. Also, Rasmussen's tracking finds no tightening of the race -- though it is on a four-day average rather than a three-day one like Gallup, so momentum swings take a longer time to register. In the general, Rasmussen finds a similar improvement for Democrats; while McCain is typically strong in Rasmussen, he is today tied with Obama and leads Clinton by 2, 47% to 45%.

The two questions in the coming days will thus be: Will Clinton confirm and maintain a boost? And will that momentum affect numbers in Indiana and North Carolina? For now, the trendline seems to be negative for her in Indiana, though she is certainly in a position to win as a new poll indicates:

  • ARG, who came closer in PA than in previous contests, finds Clinton ahead 50% to 45%. At the beginning of April, Clinton was ahead 53% to 44%.
  • The partisanship gap is fascinating: Clinton leads by 20% among registered Democrats, Obama is ahead by 31% among independents and Republicans.
What Clinton wouldn't give to have Indiana be a closed primary like Indiana... This poll breaks a string of surveys showing a small lead for Obama, and it confirms that Indiana is one of the only states since February 5th in which there is actual uncertainty as to who will win, making the job of setting expectations a bit easier. With both candidates now going all-out in May 6th states, these numbers will certainly evolve in the coming 10 days.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen released two important general election polls:

  • First, a poll from Pennsylvania finds that both Democrats have lost ground against McCain in the past two weeks -- suggesting that the increased negativity of the final days might have undermined their appeal. Clinton is now leading McCain 47% to 42% (she led by 9% two weeks ago); Obama trails 44% to 43% (he led by 8% two weeks ago).
  • Clinton gets 78% of registered Democrats, Obama only 65%; unfortunately for the Illinois Senator, that's certainly not an outlier. Dozens of polls confirm that he has trouble breaking even the 70% mark among registered Democrats.
  • In Massachusetts, both Democrats are ahead by double-digits, with Clinton trouncing McCain 55% to 36% and Obama ahead by a narrower 51% to 39%.
Both sets of numbers are significant. In Massachusetts, first, where a consistent wave of polls has shown that Obama could (stunningly) be in trouble against McCain; the most recent poll has him only ahead by 2%. The Rasmussen poll does show Obama trailing McCain by 5% among independents, suggesting that McCain's appeal among Northeast indies remains strong. Naturally, it is difficult to imagine a Democrat winning the White House without the 12 EVs of MA (even McGovern got them in 72!).

As for Pennsylvania, as troubling as those numbers are for Dems, this is probably as bad as it is going to get for the two Democrats to appeal to each other's supporters. The exit polls on Tuesday suggested that a higher number of voters than usual would be dissatisfied if the candidate they weren't supporting got the nomination. At least some of those will end up joining the Democratic side; the exact proportion that will stay away will determine the nominee's fate come November.

On a last polling note, Rasmussen also released a survey of the Massachusetts Senate race and finds John Kerry trouncing his Republican opponents and staying above 50%; he leads Jeff Beaty 55% to 30% and Jim Ogonowski (who came close to picking up a blue district in a special election in 2007) 53% to 31%. Kerry is likely to coast to re-election but it is worth pointing out that an entrenched incumbent like him could have hoped to come even further ahead against mostly unknown Republicans.

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