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.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Al Fin says:

    Senator Obama has become a huge cult figure on the world scene. He is the champion of students, blacks, muslims, and leftist revolutionaries across the globe.

    Americans who will actually vote tend to feel more uncomfortable with cult figures and years-long sustained emotion-based appeals. They would rather have a reason not to vote for the cult king.

    Jeremiah Wright is just one of many excellent reasons to let the cult make its own way down. Do not pass the White House. Do not collect the Presidency.

  2. McClum says:

    Senator Obama is actually the man we need to be President. He challenges us to be our better selves. Some of us don’t like the heat. We don’t want to change. We want to stagnate like the lazy student that sleeps in the back of the classroom or the student thats take the heat off themselves by being the clown. The clown like Fox News. Get real and begin to grow. Let us find our higher selves.

  3. nightjar says:

    Any other candidate and I would say they were now likely unelectable after the negative coverage of the past week. The very impressive thing about Obama is his personal unflappability from the past weeks revelations, although the speech didn’t hurt. Turnabout will be fair play and the soft underbelly of right wing religiosity and it’s unsavory incantations will be presented for comparison. It won’t completely negate the damage done but will come close. Then you have the perfectly predictable over reach by many of the loudest conservatives that will likely create a degree of backlash. Obama’s real problems come from the Clinton camp and it’s desperate triangulation with McCain against Obama.

  4. Peter B. says:

    It appears, so far, that Obama’s speech, which will surely be taught in schoolrooms someday, has not, in 2008, completely assured the voters who still harbor doubts about him. These doubts, I believe, do not come from the fear that he is secretly some sort of angry black radical who will come down on whites if he occupies the Oval Office. Rather, I believe it is due to what some regard as his questionable judgment in not sooner condemning the more offensive remarks of his pastor Jeremiah Wright.

    The accuracy, or lack thereof, of Rev. Wright’s statements is not the issue. RACE is not the issue. The issue is that Obama has gone into a Presidential campaign seemingly unaware of this loose cannon in his entourage. It speaks to the quality of his perception of the voters that he would not fully appreciate what it means for some people to hear the words “God damn America.” In ANY context.

    Now, since Obama cannot undo what he has done (or, in this case, not done), I would like to strongly suggest that the campaign and all those reading this who support Obama take immediate steps to present a more balanced picture of the Jeremiah Wright. We must counter the current popular impression of Wright as a dangerous, unpatriotic demagogue and show America the Jeremiah Wright that Obama knows and has known for twenty years. The Wright who helped bring Obama to Christ, married his wife, baptized his children. We need video clips of this Wright on the campaign website, YouTube, and the major news networks, so that people can understand that there is much more to the man than only his most offensive remarks.

    This will not necessarily help people understand race in America better. But it will help people understand Obama’s sense of JUDGMENT better. They will see how he could have stayed with the man for 20 years. It is good that Obama is continuing to talk about Iraq, the economy, about what he wants to do as President, about, in essence, things other than race. But if the only thing people know of Wright–not of Obama, but of Wright–is his most inflammatory moments, the judgment issue will linger in the air.

  5. Neo says:

    Values spoken without actions taken are just slogans. Values are not just words. They’re what we live by. They’re about the causes we champion and the people we fight for.John Kerry

  6. Poppie says:

    Barack is the new hula hoop.