Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Gap Closes

In national polls this week, Barack Obama's lead over Hillary Clinton has begun to diminish, according to Pollster. The latest graph, which is based on polls through Wednesday, March 18, shows that the gap between them on the smoothed chart has closed to 1.8% (47.5 - 45.7). Obama's support had leveled off, and Clinton appears to have picked up undecideds and "otherwise-decideds" - people who were for other candidates and have now picked between the two who are left.

These numbers don't include the effect of the revelations about Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, nor Obama's response. Next week's numbers should tell that tale.

One possible explanation of this recent trend is bias in the polls conducted recently. Most have been from one organization - Gallup. Gallup does show a gradual trend in favor of Clinton, but it's not quite as large as the gross numbers would indicate. Gallup's numbers generally have shown Clinton doing better than average. As other organizations conduct new polls, this effect, if any, should also become clearer.

Meanwhile, eRobin, over at her blog Factesque, sums up my feelings about this race pretty well:

I think I have NAFTA Derangement Syndrome. If the PA primary were tomorrow, I'd vote for Hillary. How's that for American voter crazy? But I just saw her on SNL and she was likable enough and now she's the underdog and they're both Republicans anyway. And that NAFTA CTV story is really bugging me. How am I supposed to vote for that guy?

Deciding the Lesser of Two Evils Turns Out to be Harder than I Thought

While I don't agree that they're Republicans (at least, they wouldn't pass for Republicans these days), they definitely are less desirable than some of the earlier candidates. They're also less progressive than I'd like, by a long ways. But that's the choice we're left with. I seriously doubt the wisdom of any progressive who pictures either of these two as the ideal candidate, or the other as the anti-Christ. It's pretty clear to me that they're neither.

So, take your pick, but don't try to tell me it's a great choice. It's just better than the alternatives. Particularly these alternatives.

UPDATE: Rasmussen's results for today indicate that Clinton has experienced a ten point bump in the last couple of days. A look at their daily results table shows that she's seen such bumps before, for whatever reasons. I'd call this within the margin of Rasmussen's error for now. There is some bad news for Obama, though. His numbers seem to be nearly identical to Clinton's now:

On Saturday, Obama’s favorable ratings slipped a little further—46% favorable, 51% unfavorable. Before the Pastor Problem became big news, Obama was viewed favorably by 52%. One month ago, he was viewed favorably by 56%. McCain is viewed favorably by 54% of voters nationwide and unfavorably by 43%. For Clinton, those numbers are 43% favorable, 54% unfavorable (see recent daily results).

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll: March 22, 2008

As voters get to know a candidate, they often start to like him less. Clinton supporters have argued that we've been through that process before, and her numbers are what they are likely to be. That may or may not be good news, considering that her unfavorables are also higher than her favorables. Personally, I don't get why her unfavorables are as high as they are, but I don't watch much TV news. Nevertheless, that's where they are, and they don't seem likely to change. Here's why that's bad:

Looking ahead to the General Election in November, John McCain continues to lead both potential Democratic opponents. McCain leads Barack Obama 49% to 41% and Hillary Clinton 49% to 43% (see recent daily results). New polling shows McCain leading both Democrats in Georgia and Arkansas. In Minnesota, the race is very close.

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll: March 22, 2008

The only antidote to this, I think, is for the news to start covering McCain's numerous indiscretions regarding lobbyists. So far, as Media Matters observes, they haven't done that.

(h/t Taylor Marsh reader Scan.)

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