Early Returns Suggest Obama’s Still in Trouble
The polls and other indications since his “More Perfect Union” speech suggest that the speech has not gotten Sen. Barack Obama out of the troubles dug for him by Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s remarks:
PRINCETON, NJ — New Gallup Poll Daily tracking finds Hillary Clinton with a 49% to 42% lead over Barack Obama in national Democratic voters’ presidential nomination preference.
This is the first time Clinton has held a statistically significant lead in over a month. She last led Obama in Feb. 7-9 polling, just after the Super Tuesday primaries. Since then, the two candidates have usually been in a statistical tie, but Obama has held a lead in several of the polls, most recently in March 11-13 polling.
Obama’s campaign has been plagued by controversial remarks made by his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Obama delivered a major speech on race Tuesday to try to move beyond the controversy. The initial indications are that the speech has not halted Clinton’s gaining momentum, as she led by a similar margin in Tuesday night’s polling as compared to Monday night’s polling.
Gallup, cited above, isn’t the only polling organization that’s reporting this result. Rasmussen observes similarly:
In the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, Obama now leads Clinton 47% to 42%. Yesterday, Obama led 45% to 44% (see recent daily results). These results are based nightly telephone surveys and reported on a four-day rolling average basis. Just one night of polling is included since Obama’s speech and that single night result is not much different from the four-day average. The reason for today’s Obama bounce is that Friday night’s results have rolled out of the four-day sample. Following the initial media frenzy over Pastor Wright, Friday’s results were the single worst night of polling for Obama since the Primary Season began.
While the full impact of Obama’s speech will not be known for some time, early indications are that it may have helped Obama more in the Democratic Primary competition than in a potential General Election match-up. Obama is currently seen as having a 43.6 % chance of becoming the next President while expectations for McCain are at 39.7 %.
Rasmussen Markets data showed that Obama was given a 75% chance of winning the Democratic nomination just before the furor erupted over Wright’s comments. They fell to 71% on the eve of his speech but bounced back to close at 75% yesterday (current pricing: 73.6 %). However, following the speech, there was virtually no change in the expectations of which party will ultimately win the White House this fall.
The Intrade Prediction Market for Obama’s candidacy continues to show the slight up-tick I noted yesterday.
What does the Obama campaign do now? Each of the available alternatives has its risks. Another highly public speech may serve as much to keep the Wright ball up in the air as it does to tamp down the fires. Given that Sen. Obama’s likelihood of securing his party’s nomination remains good if not certain I think his best course of action is probably to take the position that with his speech he’s dealt with the issue, work behind the scenes to try to minimize continuing coverage of Rev. Wright’s comments, and hope the whole thing blows over with moderates and independents by November. It’s a long time until election day.
For Democratic superdelegates the entire matter raises the spectre of precisely the scenario that the entire post-McGovern primary system was intended to prevent: the primaries producing a candidate that would be unable to win in the general election. The system is working; the ball is in their court;they just don’t like taking the responsibility that their status requires.