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Obama now ahead in Pennsylvania

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Author Topic: Obama now ahead in Pennsylvania  (Read 15 times)
Luke Hodiak
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Posts: 2585

« on: April 03, 2008, 02:08:20 pm »

New polls show Obama surge in Pa.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is surging in Pennsylvania, according to several new polls. In one survey, released by Public Policy Polling this morning, Obama is now leading New York Sen. Hillary Clinton for the first time, 45 percent to 43 percent. That represents a closing of a 26-percentage-point Clinton advantage from only two and a half weeks ago.

The Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primary is scheduled for April 22.

Obama’s gains are largely due to a narrowing of the gap with white voters—29-percentage points according to PPP—but he continues to trail Clinton 49 to 38 percent among whites. In mid-March, according to PPP, Clinton led 63 percent to 23 percent among whites. That mid-March poll occurred prior to Obama’s race speech, at the height of the controversy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The PPP poll of 1224 likely Democratic primary voters between March 31 and April 1, with a margin of error of 2.8 percent, found that Obama has improved by double digits with both white women and white men. Today, PPP has Clinton leading 56 percent to 31 percent with white women. Obama leads 44 percent to 43 percent with white men.

Obama also improved with black voters, long his base. He now captures the support of three in four African Americans in the state.
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A Rasmussen Reports poll, released April 1, had Clinton leading Obama by five points, 47 percent to 42 percent. Clinton had a 13-point lead two weeks earlier, according to Rasmussen. Another poll released the same day by SurveyUSA shows Obama making more modest gains. That survey found that Clinton was still ahead by 12 points, though Obama had narrowed her lead by 7 points in the past three weeks.

Taken together, the polls suggest that Pennsylvania, a state that once looked to be a lock for Clinton, has become considerably more competitive. His surge is especially notable considering Pennsylvania’s demographics and its closed primary, two factors thought to be key advantages for Clinton.

"We put together a massive effort," said Hildebrand, saying that the numbers include "over 200k Obama supporters" - an impressive number, and likely more than 10 percent of the total turnout in the primary.

Hildebrand declined to discuss in detail the campaign's preparations for this summer and fall, but he said planning has begun for a major voter registration push.

"We are pretty convinced that Barack is going to be the nominee, and so we're going to prepare for a general election no matter how long this two-person race goes," he said. "What we did with those two demographic groups [in South Carolina and elsewhere] is what we will have the capacity to do in the general election in every state where there's large pockets of under-35s and African-Americans" - states that include Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and other battlegrounds.

The recent Pennsylvania drive reveals elements of that effort. It includes a traditional ground operation, with staffers flooding the state from offices across Pennsylvania. Obama also ran radio ads aimed at young people and at African-Americans, encouraging them to register. His website, meanwhile, includes a section that facilitates registration in each of the primary states by filling out a completed registration form in each of the states, and offering details on where and how to submit it.

But Obama - whose campaign is entwined with his biography on many levels - has also made his own experience registering voters part of the story, something that's likely to gain a higher profile as national efforts step up. In 1992, he served as the director of Project Vote's Chicago successful Chicago effort to raise minority voter participation, a chapter that's the subject of a video Obama narrates on his website. The video suggests that the project helped turn Illinois to Bill Clinton that year.

Together with Obama's proven appeal to independent voters, his campaign's focus on increasing turnout of younger and black voters -- his base -- could counterbalance hints of weakness among more traditional swing voters like the working-class whites known as Reagan Democrats.

Senator John McCain is running strong in many polls in key states, and is expected to challenge Obama for many of those voters. But McCain lacks a motivated new cadre of supporters, and even the traditional Republican volunteer base - evangelical Christians - views him with skepticism.

"Where Obama really has the comparative advantage is his volunteers," said Michael McDonald, an expert on voter turnout at George Mason University. "When you look at McCain, one of his weaknesses is that he's not a candidate who is going to excite the Evangelical hard conservative base. He's not going to have the volunteers in place to do the same sort of mobilization efforts that an Obama would do."

The record turnout in many Democratic primaries suggests the same. Obama, for instance, received more votes in Virginia than the leading Republicans combined.

"There's a big difference in what's happening in the two parties," said Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist, who cited the Democratic candidates' superior online organizing.

"The possibility of running a very large, very powerful, and very effective campaign to register voters is something the Obama campaign could pull off this summer."
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