Pennsylvania polls remain all over the place

No matter how often polls have been discredited throughout this cycle, it seems to me that we could usually rely on a certain consistency. In Ohio and Texas, Obama was clearly gaining in all polls before surveys released in the final 3 days showed the start of a Clinton comeback; on Super Tuesday, the trend was clearly towards Obama. Even in New Hampshire, where the final polls were so awfully off, I have always believed that the polls cannot be blamed but it is the media who didn't know how to read them given the 5 day window of NH campaigning and the last minute shift towards Clinton.

In Pennsylvania, however, polls show different trends, different momentum and different leaders. After SUSA and ARG, and even Strategic Vision and Rasmussen, showed Clinton solidly ahead yesterday, two new polls paint a picture:

  • PPP finds Obama ahead, 45% to 42%. Last week, Clinton was ahead by the same margin. The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday.
  • Two weeks ago, PPP has already released a poll showing Obama ahead -- but no other institute has ever shown him leading.
  • Franklin & Marshall University are more reassuring towards Clinton, who remains ahead 46% to 40% (49-42 with leaners).
So what is the effect of bittergate? There is little evidence of any effect at all, with different polls going in different directions. And it cannot be ruled out that the controversy is backfiring on Hillary Clinton. If some Pennsylvania voters had concluded that Obama had basically won the nomination but still wanted to cast a ballot for Clinton, her willingness to air an attack ad on this issue and to criticize Obama as harshly as she has could make some people think that it is too dangerous to prolong the primary. On the other hand, Clinton's ad just started running on Monday and the media is keeping the story alive, so there is only so long a politician can not take a hit over something that is repeated so often.

Thankfully, North Carolina polls are a bit easier to navigate. Two new polls today confirm the conventional wisdom that this state is favoring Obama:

  • An ARG poll shows him leading 52% to 41%, which is a two point improvement for Hillary since last week. Clinton narrowly trails among women (50-44), crushes Barack among whites (57-33).
  • Meanwhile, Insider Advantage finds Obama ahead 51% to 36%. The pollster adds that there has been little movement since the end of March, suggesting bittergate has not caught on the imagination of North Carolinians.
  • He adds, as a warning to Clinton, "The makeup of the white Democratic vote in North Carolina is heavily populated with voters from ‘Research Triangle’ universities-based region." That is not the type of electorate Clinton ever hopes for...
These polls give us an idea of how difficult the road ahead is for Clinton. She needs to post strong numbers in PA and she then immediately needs to get equally solid results in North Carolina and Indiana. A double-digit lead in the second largest state left to vote (after PA) will simply not cut it. The problem for Hillary is that the NC electorate is in some ways similar to Virginia's, with a significant proportion of the white-collar whites (though not as much as VA, allowing her a route to stay competitive).

Finally, the last poll of this morning comes to us courtesy of the Washington Post, which finds that Obama is now ahead of Clinton 51% to 41% nationally; against McCain, Clinton trails 48% to 45% while Obama is ahead 49% to 44%. Could it be that national numbers are more important than ever since, for the first time, they have an audience (superdelegates)?

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  • Clinton will have trouble with white voters in NC because those whites who are Democrats or independents (unaffiliated in NC speak) are largesly located in either the Charlotte metro area, the Triad (Winston-Salem, Greensboro) or the Traingale (Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh). These areas have many universities and high paying jobs with companies like Bank of America, IBM, Cisco, GSK, GE so Obama will score heavily with them.
    Added in with the large (21%) Black population then Obama should do very well.
    It is true that these prosperous areas are not as large a proportion of NC as Northern Virginia is in VA. Hence why the state is still solid GOP federally. But this will change since the population increase (NC has grown 10% in the past 6 years) is concentrated in these three areas. This means NC will be a swing state in the next cycle or two. Given that after the next census NC will have as many EV's as Michigan and will be maybe the 8the largest state.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 16 April, 2008 12:35  

  • Looking at the PPP poll on their site they seem sot be correctly weighted male/female, for ethnicity, age and location.
    I do find it odd that Clinton leads by only 3% with those voters 65+. She normally leads by more.
    Interesting that SE PA (essentially Philly) is 46% of the voting population. Obama probably will try and do the same as Rendell (Governor now supporting Clinton) did when he ran for office in the Dem primary and get large margins in Philly and Pittsburg and lose votes in the rest of the state.

    It should be remembered that the PA primary is a closed primary so only registered Dems can vote. This should help Hillary because Obama gets some extra support from Independents, which before the Clinton people decry are vital for winning in November.

    By Anonymous Tom, At 16 April, 2008 12:43  

  • Mike, one recent poll from Rammussen showed Obama tying McCain in North Carolina so it's very possible that NC could be competive starting in this cycle for the very reasons that you mentioned. Of couse that polls was conducted before bittergate and other polls haven't yet shown this but if this trend contineus NC could very well help to make up for Obamas weakness in FL.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 16 April, 2008 13:04  




    Question # 11(of Democrats)

    "has the better chance of getting elected president in November"


    Obama: 62%
    Clinton: 31%

    Washington Post ABC News Poll



    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 16 April, 2008 13:50  

  • Jaxx Raxor
    I also believe that NC could be in play this cycle, or at least we can make McCain spend some money defending it!

    By Blogger Javier, At 16 April, 2008 13:54  

  • I agree that NC could be in play if Obama is the nominee. My main point is that the Dems will get progressively stronger in NC over the next few cycles (assuming reasonable candidates etc).

    NC would be a great state to win with 15 EV's (and increasing). Florida is not necessary for the Dems - we need to move on from the travails of 2000. Kerry has admitted that his campaign focussed too much on FL instead of OH. We shouldn`t try and fight the last war but look at which states are really in play as opposed to using previous results from 4 or 8 years ago as a guide.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 16 April, 2008 15:28  

  • Clinton supporters correctly argue that Obama may lose in November. But no-one has said that Clinton is more likely to win than Obama. If he loses then the odds are she would have also.
    Her negatives have increased and amongst independents (a crucial segment of voters) it has reached 66% unfavorable. This is not a hopeful sign. Bearing in mind both Dems will be running on very similar policies it will come down to more intagible things like inspiration, experience, favorability etc.

    Also Clinton's main claim to the nomination is experience. McCain will whoop ass on this and most voters will conclude he has more "experience". So the Dems need to counter with policies (very similar between both Dems), ability to bring change, inspiration, etc. This would imply Obama is the better bet.

    Of course McCain may win against either, so we will see....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 16 April, 2008 15:32  

  • I still don't think Obama running as the "e" for exclusionary candidate will survive. He insults godheads,gun nuts,pro choice,Fla. voters, and now has a plant call his elitism "uppity" racism. He keeps that up and you'll see Democratic optimism get flushed. Let's see if he can survive those excessively mild "attacks" from Hillary before assuming he's viable.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 16 April, 2008 15:34  

  • What the polls indicate is that the people of Pennsylvania are not fools. The 'bittergate' media circus has done nothing other than revealing the bias of the media and the NeoCon principles of Hillary Clinton. And nobody wants this crap any more. Meanwhile, from a blog at the Huffington Post:
    'In January 1995, as the Clintons were licking their wounds from the 1994 congressional elections, a debate emerged at a retreat at Camp David. Should the administration make overtures to working class white southerners who had all but forsaken the Democratic Party? The then-first lady took a less than inclusive approach.
    "Screw 'em," she told her husband. "You don't owe them a thing, Bill. They're doing nothing for you; you don't have to do anything for them."
    The statement (...) author Benjamin Barber witnessed and wrote about in his book, "The Truth of Power: Intellectual Affairs in the Clinton White House."'

    By Anonymous Emmanuel Winner, At 16 April, 2008 17:38  

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