California Tightening, Routs Everywhere Else
The polls show John McCain and Hillary Clinton running through tomorrow’s Super Tuesday primaries and consolidating their frontrunner status. The notable exception is California, where both are seeing longstanding leads slip away.
CNN’s Paul Steinhauser notes, though, that the national polls give Clinton much more cause for concern.
Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton is losing ground to Sen. Barack Obama in a national CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released on the eve of critical Super Tuesday presidential primaries and caucuses. The two are virtually tied in Monday’s survey, which shows the New York senator has lost a comfortable national lead she’s held for months over Obama and other rivals.
The survey also shows Arizona Sen. John McCain as the clear Republican front-runner.
Obama, who trounced Clinton in January’s South Carolina primary, garnered 49 percent of registered Democrats in Monday’s poll, while Clinton trailed by just three points, a gap well within the survey’s 4.5 percentage point margin of error.
In the battle for the GOP nomination, McCain has the backing of 44 percent of registered Republicans, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney received 29 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee got 18 percent and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas won 6 percent.
Pollster John Zogby:
The Mac Attack appears ready to launch on Super Tuesday. McCain’s leads are commanding, except for in California where Romney leads in Southern California and among women, investors, and voters over 50. Romney holds a double digit lead there among conservatives and leads 56%-18% among very conservative voters. Romney also leads among white voters and among those who say that the war on terror and immigration are top issues.
McCain will do well because of his big leads in the other states and because of winner-take-all states. But Romney may at least have a strong showing in California. In Missouri, Huckabee is in second place by virtue of strong support with conservative and (especially) very conservative voters.
On the Democratic side, California, Missouri and New Jersey are so close. Obama’s lead in California is by virtue of solid support in the Bay Area and among Independents (by 20 points), men (20 points), 18-29 year olds (31 points), very liberal voters (22 points), and African Americans (75%-14%). Clinton does well among women (11 points) and among Hispanics (64%-29%).
National polls are instructive for trend analysis and are a good snapshot when looking at Super Tuesday, which will have two dozen contests spread across the country. Still, it’s a state-by-state process. According to RealClearPolitics, here are some averages of recent polls in key states:
Moreover, most of the Republican primaries tomorrow are winner-take-all, which benefits McCain. The key one that isn’t, California, also benefits McCain, since he’ll get a substantial number of delegates even if he loses.
On the Democratic side, while Clinton will win the vast majority of states, her close margin will mean that the fight for delegates continues long past tomorrow. And, if Obama wins California (which I think he’s apt to do, given that the trend is going his way and he’s got more enthusiasm on his side) he’ll get enough buzz to blunt much of Clinton’s momentum.