Democratic presidential contenders Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton barnstormed Indiana and North Carolina Monday in an effort to boost appeal and combat national poll numbers that show mixed feelings about either candidate’s electability.
A USA Today/Gallup poll showed Obama trailing Clinton 44 percent to 51 percent nationally. A similar poll taken two weeks ago, before the Illinois senator’s response to controversial remarks regarding his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama led Clinton by 10 points.
By contrast, a CBS News/New York Times poll among likely Democratic primary voters has Obama ahead of Clinton 50 percent to 38 percent, an increase from Obama’s 46 percent-38 percent lead at the end of April.
However, that poll showed Obama’s appeal slipping in areas such as perception of shared values and chances of beating presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in the fall.
Both polls inquired about the Illinois senator’s reaction to controversial remarks made by his former pastor. The CBS News/New York Times poll revealed that while Obama’s image was slightly damaged by the surrounding furor, most voters said it did not affect their impression of his electability in the general election. Many of those polled in the USA Today/Gallup poll, however, said the Wright controversy caused them to question Obama’s “values, credibility and electability,” the Washington Post reported.
On Saturday, Obama celebrated the slimmest of victories in the U.S. territory of Guam, where he won by a mere seven votes. Obama and Clinton split the territory’s eight delegates.
Sunday, he spoke to voters in Indianapolis, and Monday, he met with construction workers at the University of Evansville to discuss labor reform.
The senator then headed south to Durham, N.C., for another economic discussion with local workers, and turned back to Indiana Monday night to watch the results from the Hoosier state.
Clinton spent most of Monday in Greenville and High Point, N.C., before heading to Indiana as well. On Monday morning at Greenville’s Pitt Community college, she defended the gas tax plan and challenged Obama, saying he “doesn’t want to do anything,” the Associated Press reported.
The New York senator then headed to Merrillville, New Albany and Evansville, Ind., to prepare for Tuesday’s contests.