Posted: May 29, 2008 4:31 PM
Poll Shows Tightening Obama-McCain Match-up, Sharpening Divisions Among Democrats
In a potential general election match-up between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, Obama has a thin lead on the Arizona senator, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, but the gap is tightening.
Obama led by just 3 percent in the poll, with 47 percent support to McCain’s 44. That margin is down from more substantial 6 and 7 percentage point leads Obama had over McCain in previous monthly polls.
Obama’s favorability rating has also suffered, dropping 8 points since February. Half of those who had an unfavorable opinion of him cited political beliefs, but nearly a third, many of whom were white working class voters, referenced either the kind of person Obama is, or say their unfavorable views are influenced both by the kind of person he is and his political beliefs.
“The tightening general election matchup between Obama and McCain shows some sullying of Obama’s personal image over the past three months, despite his primary victories,” the poll’s summary read. “Over this period, unfavorable views of McCain have risen as well.”
Still, the Pew poll showed Obama as the clear leader in the Democratic nominating race against Sen. Hillary Clinton, holding a wide 54 percent to 41 percent lead as the New York senator pushes her bid forward despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
The poll’s numbers paint a stark picture of divisions among Democrats. Just 46 percent of those who support Clinton for the nomination say the party will unite behind Obama. In March, 58 percent of Clinton supporters said the party would rally behind Obama if he is the nominee.
Obama’s trouble courting Clinton supporters could hurt him in Florida and Ohio in a general election, according to a May Quinnipiac University poll, that shows him behind in matchups with McCain in both states, while Clinton has solid leads over McCain in both battlegrounds.
The difficulty Obama has had connecting with white working class voters, exacerbated by his ‘guns and religion’ gaffe, is considered by many analysts a major factor in his losses to Clinton in April’s Pennsylvania primary, and May’s West Virginia and Indiana primaries.
However, several other polls this month have shown that Obama would fare well with at least one group of voters that he and Clinton have battled for in the primaries: women.
Obama was ahead among women when matched up with McCain by 5 points in Gallup poll, 13 points in a poll by Quinnipiac University and 20 points in a survey by CBS News and The New York Times.
But for the moment, Clinton’s campaign is not ready to release their voter base to the Obama camp.
Clinton made the case that she is the most electable candidate in swing states in a letter and memo she sent to undeclared superdelegates on Wednesday. She also told a Montana crowd on the campaign trail she is the stronger candidate against McCain in the fall “based on every analysis, of every bit of research and every poll that has been taken and every state that a Democrat has to win.”