Poll: Reverend Wright Not a Factor

Chuck Todd and Domenico Montanaro take a look at the results of a new NBC/WSJ poll and find some surprises. Most notably, about half the people had never heard of Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Pollster Peter Hart calls the NBC/WSJ poll a “myth buster” survey; it really breaks down a lot of the myths we’ve been hearing over the last week like: (1) that the Wright controversy was the beginning of the end for the Obama campaign — certainly not the case, but there’s no telling how much more Wright stuff comes out; (2) It was surprising how few people knew who Wright was (about half). People who followed story, though, were really disturbed (55%); (3) The premise that the Clinton campaign would turn out to be a stronger campaign or stronger among independents. (4) That the bar facing a black candidate would be higher than for a woman or a person over 70; There’s a bar, but not higher; (5) That somehow this Wright story is over. If you look at it overall numbers, you can be misled. Among 29% of ALL voters, they need more answers from Obama. They have hesitations and uncertainties; they want to know, “Is he safe?” — both in the sense of credentials/experience but also in terms of life story. The Wright controversy, the poll indicates, has taken a bit of the shine off Obama, brought him out of the stratosphere, notes pollster Bill McInturff. Clinton also faces a similar amount of uncertainties, but among a different group of people.


But the poll didn’t indicate the past couple of weeks’ news hurt Obama the most; it was Clinton (sniper fire?). She’s sporting the lowest personal ratings of the campaign

It’s always befuddling to learn that most “regular” people are ignoring the stories that the chattering class (myself included) are engrossed with. Sometimes, stories just don’t catch the public’s fancy. Then again, if Obama is the nominee, one expects that some 527 group will run a lot of television ads to see if they can’t change that.

I do believe that the wheels are coming off the Hillary Clinton campaign, though. It’s not just that it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to make up the necessary ground on Obama — we’ve known that for a while — but that she’s coming across as increasingly desperate, if not simply pathetic. That’s the opposite of presidential.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Public Opinion Polls, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    There’s but two ways to read that poll data;

    1: They don’t care about mere facts
    2: They agree with Obama’s Mr. Wright.

  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    Another way to look at this is that 50% of the people will be “surprised” by the Obama-Wright connection when the are introduced to the relationship next October when they are paying attention.

  3. Maggie Mama says:

    Well, maybe Rev. Wright has NOT been a factor to date….

    BUT now he’s calling ME a “GARLIC NOSE“.

    You really don’t want to mess with GARLIC NOSES; just ask Tony!

  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I guess there is no deed evil enough to disqualify someone nomination for President of the United States in the democratic party. Listening to Obama’s own words from his book which he reads from to make a listening book is shocking. His admiration for Malcom X and his association with the most radical of leftists is eyeopening. H. R. Clinton is simply incapable of telling the truth. From the source of her middle name to her Bosnian visit. This person lies as easily as she breaths. Both will steal your money to pay for the needs of those who will not provide for themselves. Both these candidates are a threat to the American way of life.

  5. Wayne says:

    Out of the (about half) “nice number by the way” that didn’t know who Wright is even knew who the primary candidates were. I didn’t waste much of my time trying to find the actual poll. However according to http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/03/26/821438.aspx 31% did not see the speech or had no opinion. Sounds closer to third than about half. Also having no opinion doesn’t mean you haven’t heard about it. It is hard to know how much the Wright story hurt since Clinton was also hurt by the sniper fire story. I hate most of these surveys anyway.

  6. Wyatt Earp says:

    It’s always befuddling to learn that most “regular” people are ignoring the stories that the chattering class (myself included) are engrossed with.

    And these people will still vote. Scary.

  7. anjin-san says:

    Who is worked up by the Wright issue? Well, the increasingly desperate Clinton campaign sure tried to make hay out of it.

    Lapel pin patriots are always happy to have something to foam at the mouth about.

    A lot of folks feel that a combat vet like Wright is probably entitled to his opinion, even if they do not agree with it. A lot of folks realize that blacks in this country have legitimate reasons to be pretty angry. Ask Mike Huckabee what he thinks about that issue.

    A lot of folks realize that because you attend a church, or any other organization, you do not necessarily agree with everything that is said there. I heartily disagree with much of what is said on OTB, but I feel it provides a worthwhile forum for debate, so I come back.

  8. Artmeat says:

    If you watch the whole Wright sermon then the 15 second snippet makes sense. If you listen to Obamas speech on race it is clear a new generation of politics is what he is and I my friends …am with him. What the big story is to me is McCains faltering memory… sure he simply mispoke 3 times in a few days but surely it is the most critical subject we have on our collective plate. We cant have a war monger ( he sings ” Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” like its a favorite jingle) continue in the white house. Please hear the sermon and the speech on race… and stand up for him as a fellow American.

  9. Bruce Moomaw says:

    A`lot of us are in that uneasy intermediate position that Joyner describes: we find it extremely hard to believe that Obama’s long-term close white acquaintances are wrong in saying that it’s utter hooey to describe him as sympathizing with Wright’s extremist howlings, but we would nevertheless like to know somewhat more about just why he stayed attached to Trinity Church for so long — especially given the description by the New Republic of one of Wright’s most recent sermons ( http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=6f7b8f16-c876-4ddb-b0e6-347fdbfd5fb0 ), which makes it painfully clear that you could turn Wright into a bagpipe simply by sticking two drones and a chanter in him.