Saturday polls: Obama stays ahead in North Carolina, mixed national numbers

Rasmussen released today's lone state poll, and from the North Carolina primary no less -- a contest that was neglected this week compared to the deluge of Pennsylvania and Indiana surveys. The poll brought good news for Obama, who is counting on a strong showing here to put an end to Clinton's run:

  • Obama is ahead 56% to 33%. Obama gets 86% among black voters while Clinton leads by 9% among whites.
  • One worrisome measure for Democrats: 56% of Clinton voters say they are "not likely" to support Obama in the general election.
Whatever happens in Indiana, Clinton will lose much of her remaining chances if she loses such North Carolina with such a margin. These are the type of defeats she endured through the latter half of February, and she cannot afford to duplicate that: The only hope of her candidacy now is to show that something has changed and that voters are having doubts about having put Obama ahead. A blowout of this size would not allow her to make this argument, not to mention that it would very much complicate her efforts to take back the lead in the popular vote. (I explained why North Carolina is such dangerous ground for Clinton in more detail last week.)

Rasmussen's North Carolina survey was complemented today by a few national polls with something reassuring for every candidate in the race. Consider this: The latest CBS/New York Times poll shows that 81% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track! It is will be very difficult for the Republican Party to not lose considerable ground in the fall with such massive level of dissatisfaction. That this election structurally favors Democrats is confirmed by Democracy Corps's latest poll that has a generic Democratic beating a generic Republican for President 51% to 43%.

But Democrats are not pulling ahead against McCain in today's polls:
  • The latest CBS/NYT poll has both Clinton and Obama leading McCain by 5%, 48% to 43% and 47% to 42% respectively. The survey also shows Obama 3% ahead of Clinton nationally.
  • Meanwhile, the Diego/Hotline poll contains better news for McCain, who reverses an 8% deficit against Obama as of last month to take a 46% to 44% lead -- a nice turnaround for the Republican. He is also ahead of Clinton 50% to 41%. Obama crushes Hillary nationally, 50% to 38%.
  • The poll's internals are quite worrisome for Democrats: Obama only gets 56% of the vote of registered Democrats (!), down from 73% a month ago. McCain's share of the cross-over has doubled to 15%. And a stunningly high 29% of Clinton supporters say they will vote for McCain in the general election. Clinton has her own significant problems: She only gets 74% of the black vote, much lower than what a Democrat needs to win an election.
  • Two notes, finally, from today's tracking poll: Rasmussen came out with Obama's largest lead ever in the primary (51-41), while Gallup finds the McCain-Obama match-up is back to a tie at 45% for the first time since March 14th, another good development for Barack.
It is naturally unlikely that so large a proportion of Democratic primary voters end up crossing-over if their favored candidate does not win the primary, but the Democratic Party should not assume that as many as they need will naturally and by themselves return home. McCain is proving to have appeal to enough right-leaning Democrats to offset some of the GOP's structural problems. Whether McCain can possibly continue to defy the odds and remain competitive (and often ahead) in a year where everything seems to be favored seems to be seen.

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  • Similar doomsday news came out in 2000 during the McCain / Bush primary fight and polls showed that 45% of McCain supporters would not vote for Bush in the fall. This was, of course, not the case, nor will it be with the DEM nominee in this year.

    By Blogger Mark, At 06 April, 2008 04:19  

  • The North Carolina poll is very interesting. Not just for the headline figures ( I doubt Obama will win by 23%) but thew white vote. Bearing in mind Clinton does well especially with white older women. I would like to know the gender gap because a 9% lead for her with whites in general could mean 15% lead with white women and no lead amongst white men. The news recently has been that Obama has a problem with white men (OH, PA) but this might be disproved in NC (a "southern" state after all). Obama doesn`t really have an issue with white men - he has won the majority of white male votes in plenty of states like WI, VA, CT etc.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 06 April, 2008 07:15  

  • Looking at the NC poll in more details at Rasmussen's website it looks like Obama has a clear favorability lead - which he has opened up in other states too. This may have some impact on late decider's. They typically choose the person they have the best feelings towards. Also Clinton cannot play the 3am ad again.

    Not good news for Clinton, taken along with her declining PA leads.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 06 April, 2008 07:18  

  • That sort of NC victory would make up any delegate and popular vote lead that Clinton got out of PA.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 06 April, 2008 07:18  

  • While I appreciate the timely poll updates, the language of the posts sometimes (not always) seems to take them as accurate when we know that they're subject to error (see NH primary).

    For instance, this one says Obama "is ahead" by 23% in NC. Well, no doubt the poll says it. But another poll would probably have a different margin, and they can't both be right. Perhaps it wasn't an intentional implication, but such definitive language may give a single poll more confidence than it deserves.

    Yes, the polls say what they say. And I have no objection with speculating on their implications, especially since they're all we have to go on. But we should keep in mind that there are different methodologies, margins of error, and hard and soft support, not to mention the many things that can happen between a poll and a vote.

    So yes, let's watch the polls. I do. They are informative. But let's be careful to take them for what they are, and not more than that.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 06 April, 2008 08:43  

  • These polls are laughable. The real numbers against Obama are being hidden.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 06 April, 2008 13:27  

  • Obama is in real trouble. Sinking fast among Democrats. If I was an Obamabot-like Clinton supporter,I'd call on him to quit right now. Good thing us Democrats on her side are a little more mature than that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 06 April, 2008 13:34  

  • The real numbers against Obama are being hidden.

    Being hidden by whom?

    The poll numbers are what they are. If there's a conspiracy theory, better have something to back it up with instead of saying "I don't like the numbers, so they must be manipulated."

    AS I wrote above, poll numbers can be informative but of variable reliability. The "real" numbers at this point as far as hard facts are concerned add up to a delegate lead that's going to be hard for Clinton to overcome.

    On to PA.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 06 April, 2008 17:11  

  • For the superdelegates to use their best judgement and support the best interest of the party, 44% disapproval among their members is a death sentence for Barack's campaign. I wonder what the inverse is for Hillary?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 06 April, 2008 17:26  

  • I am a Democrat in NC that is a loyal Hillary supporter. If she loses the general election, I'll change my allegience to McCain. McCain and Clinton are about action: Obama is about using words to energize everyone to do nothing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 06 April, 2008 18:38  

  • Diego/Hotline poll sounds like a great poll, ya, seems like they do a lot of polls, since I have never heard of them before.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 06 April, 2008 21:08  

  • McCain and Clinton are about action: Obama is about using words to energize everyone to do nothing.

    Odd, I come to just the opposite conclusion. I think the Obama campaign is about reminding us that government can't do things for us; government is the way we decide to act together. If we think that just putting the right people in office will solve our problems for us without any effort on our part, we're in for four more years of disappointment. But if a majority of us are willing to act, we can achieve great things together. (When was the last time a politician told us we had to act on an issue we said we cared about, aside from pulling a lever on a voting machine?)

    By contrast, I see the Clinton and McCain campaigns as not asking anything from the public. Wars are free, tax cuts are free, Social Security preservation will be free. Social Security isn't "the government's" program given to us; it's a program we decided to provide for each other. And if we care about it, we'll be willing to do something to preserve it. If don't, we won't. But it won't be up to Clinton, McCain, or Obama; it will be up to us. Same on energy independence, getting big money out of politics, and any number of other issues. It's not about "them," it's about "us." It's about restoring people's responsibility for their government.

    And once we're reminded of that basic truth, then we can start having a real discussion of our taxing and spending priorities that has been missing ever since the Reagan years, when we were told we could have something for nothing. And then let the will of the people prevail.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 07 April, 2008 00:33  

  • You supporters should stop threating, after all you could see both Hillary and Obma ever admiring themselves each time they have such oppotunity.

    It is a fact that both of them are competing, regardless who is Trailing and who is Fighting. They have both common KNOWLEDGE and UNDERSTANDING that who ever won the Democratic Nomination shall get the support of the other without any Mallice. Who ever do otherwise shall be held responsible as A BIG TRAITOR and Not to be trusted as ever as a Future Democrat Leader.

    As such you supporters, you can only danced by the tune of your Leader in the same way as your Front Bearer. Hence do not go into any Delution of saying you will not vote for X or Y just because the person can not win the well contested Primary Elections. We just hope that the RULE of Law of Democrtas is adhered to without STUMBLING or Favour

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 24 April, 2008 11:57  

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