February 28, 2008

Obama Has The Lead, But Potential Problems Too

Section 3: The Primary Contests

Barack Obama has taken a nine-point lead over Hillary Clinton among Democratic voters nationwide. Currently, 49% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters say he would be their first choice for the nomination, while 40% name Clinton as their first choice. This is a reversal of the eight-point lead Clinton held just three weeks ago.

Far more overwhelming, however, is the impression that Barack Obama is going to win. Seven-in-ten Democrats (70%) say Obama is most likely to win the party’s nomination, while just 17% see Clinton as the likely victor. Even a majority (52%) of Clinton’s backers say they think Obama is likely to emerge as the winner. Barely a third (34%) of Clinton backers predict that she will win the nomination.

Since early February, Obama has made substantial gains among conservative Democratic voters, African Americans, and those with a high school education or less. He has now pulled even with Clinton among non-college voters, gaining 20 points among this group since early February.

Obama also has gained 11 points among a core Clinton constituency, Democratic women — ncluding 13 points among white Democratic women. He leads Clinton among voters younger than 65, and middle- and upper-income Democratic voters. He now matches Clinton’s support among white Democrats, and holds a commanding 73% to 20% lead among black voters.

GOP Primaries: McCain’s Broad Gains

John McCain’s support now spans all major segments of the Republican Party, including conservatives and white evangelical Protestants. He is the first choice nominee of 61% of Republican voters nationwide, up from 42% three weeks ago before the “Super Tuesday” primaries and Mitt Romney’s departure from the race. His support among Conservatives is up 19 points from 37% to 56%, and up 18-points among moderate and liberal Republicans as well. While McCain and Huckabee split the white evangelical Protestant vote three weeks ago, McCain now holds a 10-point lead, though still just shy of a majority (47% McCain, 37% Huckabee).