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New poll shows Barack Obama tanking in Pennsylvania

The first fresh poll results from Pennsylvania are in since Barack Obama's "bitter" comments about people in small towns exploded as a news story, and the findings could hardly be worse for the Democratic presidential contender.

Intriguingly, the man in charge of the survey said interviews with voters indicate Obama's tumble in the state has more to do with what the candidate himself has said were ill-chosen words than anything else.

The new poll by American Research Group -- conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- gave Clinton 57% and Obama 37% (based on interviews with 600 Democrats, the survey has an error margin of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points). The 20-point margin is all the more dramatic because, just the week before, an ARG poll found the pair in a flat-out tie in Pennsylvania, each with 45%.

The previous findings had put the race closer than any others. And perhaps the new one exaggerates the bounce Clinton has gotten from the storm over Obama's remarks at a San Francisco fund-raiser. Other pollsters are in the field in Pennsylvania, and we eagerly await their results (an L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll of Democrats in the Keystone State -- as well as in North Carolina and Indiana -- will be ready mid-week).

Regardless, the New Hamphire-based ARG poll, may have identified a tactical worry for the Obama camp above and beyond the current controversy. Dick Bennett, head of the poll, told us today that even before the furor erupted, it appeared many Pennsylvania Democrats began to turn against Obama because they are simply sick and tired of seeing and hearing his ads.

Much as campaign consultants would be loath to agree, Bennett opined that a candidate "can spend too much money" on an ad campaign, and the saturation of Obama spots ...

in Pennsylvania appear to be a classic example of "overkill" that ultimately does harm.

Bennett also reported that some of the Pennsylvanians who his company contacted went on to complain about the substance of the ubiquitous Obama ads. They are "about him, not voters or what their concerns are," Bennett said. And Obama's comment on attitudes in small towns served to reinforce that feeling.

-- Don Frederick

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ARG has been the most unreliable polling outfit this election season. They had Clinton +9 right before Iowa, with Obama behind Edwards. All the other polls consistently showed Hillary with leads in PA, so it's more likely their previous poll with both candidates tied at 45 was the outlier, not this one.

Looks like the good people of Pennsylvania have grabbed their guns, their bibles, tuned into Lou Dobbs, and placed their heads firmly in the sand. Far be it for them to actually take a few minutes to read what Obama really said.

The politicians who DON'T believe that the small town midwestern voters have become bitter with Washington have exposed themselves to be the ones who truly are "elitist and out of touch".

Does the public want statements like "politics is a contact sport" or Clinton saying let them fight it out, Hillary lying about being shot at. The truth is that we can afford to build Iraq up and bring students into the USA at tax payers money. We can not afford to take care of our sick because of the mistakes of Bush Clinton. Do we want another 8 years of this until Chelsea comes or the Bush tribe gets back in power.

Senator Obama clarified his intent regarding what is now known as his "bitter" statement during last nights "Compassion Forum" televised on CNN. When will the media report on that ?

News flash, chuckleheads! What Obama said was absolutely TRUE, and there is NO NEED for him to apologize for the comments. This is just ugly, dirty spin by the Clinton camp.

I'm sickened by the Clinton camp. I am bitter. Obama's comments are not elitist! It's elitist to wag your finger at the nation and say "I did not have sexual relations with that woman". It's elitist to say "I'm going to make the Bush tax cuts permanent" in a time of war. Obama was not denegrating religion. I have turned towards my religion more in these times of need because I have no faith in our government. Obama was addressing these very sensative times and the right wing media and Clinton are spinning this. God help us if we as a nation follow this foolery.

is that the same gallup that said in June of 2004....."The poll finds Kerry leading Bush in the presidential contest by 49% to 44% among registered voters, and 50% to 44% among likely voters."


I can believe it if it's not his words that aren't annoying them as much as his ubiquitous ads are.

Unless you're living in PA, you may not see just how much people are being bombarded by campaign ads. I'm a big Obama supporter (from IL), but reading how people are sick of seeing his ads reminds me of how sick I was of seeing all the candidates' (presidential and otherwise) ads in my area back in '04. There is such a thing as saturation, and I hope that Obama's campaign didn't overdo it.

Yeahhh! Finally people are seeing the light about this guy!!! Shows Pensylvanians are smart people and are not deceived or taken in by OB.

It is a credit to the people of PA and their ability to see B.O. for what he really is: A one term Senator from Illinois that was elected only by exploiting racial and class differences in a predominately African American community. He is NOT the product of "the struggle", but rather has benefited since birth from the very best of what White America can offer including a Harvard scholarship. He claims to have eschewed law to serve the people, but since winning election in his district, has been able to place his highly compensated wife in the highest paying corporate positions. He is associated with bigots and slum lords, who exploit African Americans both economically and spiritually. It is time to start asking the hard questions, and expose this elitist presidential wannabe for what he is - words not deeds.

First, the mass media is doing nothing to Obama by merely reporting his remarks or the data collected by the most recent polls. As an Obama fan, you may not have noticed, that the media has done anything but crucify Senator Obama. So, please "forgive" the media for doing its honest duty of reporting his standings in the polls and recent comments in San Francisco.

Why are national polls not reflecting it yet? Give it time - the ones from PA just did! Pennsylvania has long been the barometer of nat'l politics - we aren't called the Keystone state for nothing! - and the blatant trashing of our general population is an embarassment. Indiana is already up in arms over his comments and other, less "small-town" states will catch on, too.

As a small-town Pennsylvania, I for one am not bitter, clinging to my guns or my religion or my "xenophobia". I do not merely vote out of frustrations, but after careful thought and consideration. As a college student, I want a better life for my generation and future family. Above all, as a proud Pennsylvanian, I want a president who will stand up for us, not look down on us.

It's interesting that this all comes up the week before the PA primary. I don't buy these polls one bit. This all just seems to be more vicious trickery from the Clinton campaign which week after week has been attacking Obama. This is yet another election that's turned into a complete joke... every four years I am reminded why this government is going downhill.

Remember New Hampshire?

The press has got to break it's addiction to polls.

When Sen. Obama said that some bitter, frustrated small town voters "cling to ... antipathy to people who aren't like them" that was just his fancy way of calling them racists. Nobody likes to be called a racist. Sen. Obama should apologize to them for that quickly.

THis is so ridicules...what is wrong with the people are they afraid to say that they are upset, angry, or bitter...or is it they just plain do not like the word he used...but yet they will be the first ones to say they are upset the way things are....but yet they will follow someone who seems to have a hard time telling the whole the media shows...

If voters turn on Obama for that comment then they deserve Hillary Clinton. She won't be able to focus on our country because "Bill" will always be there supportive and destructive. Our country can not take another Clinton administration. Look how easily she lied about Bosnis. Her daughter was with her and there is absolutely no way she could have misspoken. Mothers don't forget those type of incidents when their daughter is involved. Why hasn't she got rid of Mr. Penn? Do you really think that $800,000.00 is just Bill's money. Wake up America and stop gtting hung up on nonsense. Worry about health care, education and bringing our troops home. No one will work with HIllary, she is loathed and you know it.

This is a Hillary spin, masquerading as news. The suggestion that a campaign could turn on the use of a word like "bitter" is probably baloney, but frightening if true.

It just shows that people around the Nation are readjusting with presidential candidates; and, obviously the Obama glare is dimming and Hillary is regaining her position. She was there and she is going to be there. Go Hillary, Go!

I am simply fed up with the Elitist Rhetoric spewing from Obama's mouth, and the Bitter Racial Diatribe of Michell Obama. Here is something she can be really proud of. She has the Right and Freedom to purchase one-way tickets (4) to any part of the world she may wish to go including Africa. Maybe she can find a lot more to be proud of in her homeland than she can in America.

Obama's polling results in Pennsylvania over the current furor have nothing to do with the latest National Polls. The poll done over the Friday, Saturday, Sunday does reflect a change in Pennsylvania voters views of Barack Obama, but none of the National Polls reflect what happened over the weekend. These words he spoke in San Francisco will have a real impact the general election, and will have an immediate impact on Independent voters in the upcoming Democratic primaries.

Great! Glad to see that Penn votes can see beyond Obama and his continual spin machine. Go Hillary!

When Sen. Obama said that some bitter, frustrated small town voters "cling to ... antipathy to people who aren't like them" that was just his fancy way of calling them racists. Nobody likes to be called a racist. Sen. Obama should apologize to them for that quickly.

It is a credit to the people of PA and their ability to see B.O. for what he really is: A one term Senator from Illinois that was elected only by exploiting racial and class differences in a predominately African American community. He is NOT the product of "the struggle", but rather has benefited since birth from the very best of what White America can offer including a Harvard scholarship. He claims to have eschewed law to serve the people, but since winning election in his district, has been able to place his highly compensated wife in the highest paying corporate positions. He is associated with bigots and slum lords, who exploit African Americans both economically and spiritually. It is time to start asking the hard questions, and expose this elitist presidential wannabe for what he is - words not deeds.

Look at the ARG website. Their polls have not been very accurate in the states that have already voted.

The phrase "based on interviews with 600 democrats" hints that the poll was conducted on the basis of an old list, most likely comprised of Clinton supporters. Sounds like another kitchen sink to me.

This poll is so biased that it's not even funny. Dick Bennett, is the biggest Republican, and is doing his best to make sure Obama loses big in Pennsylvania. There are so many things in this country that are corrupt, and people like Dick are a major portion of that. This presidential primary is all about the battle of the media, who can fool people more. People know the truth though, and regardless of how much these people don't want Obama to come out ahead, we all know that he is our only hope for changing organizations and people like Dick. I wish the LA times would dig deeper on some of these issues and expose people who are trying to put a shield in front of people's eyes..

It isn't so much what Obama said that has people angry...It's what Clinton and McCain and most of the media have SAID he said. Sadly enough, people without the intelligence to think and reason for themselves will believe the latter. For anyone to believe Obama would be stupid enough to deliberately make comments that would be offensive to the voters is stupidity in itself.

Ask some of my friends, relatives and neighbors if they're bitter and frustrated about losing jobs, or working for $6-$8 an hour.

Obama probably is better in touch with the realities of average Americans than multi-millionaires Clinton and McCain.

Obama learned bitterness is his chosen Chicago church under chosen Pastor Wright. Were he to visit a "small town" chuch he would learn love. Jesus wasn't bitter, only Peter, when he realized he had denied Him three times. Small town folks love God and recognize why guns are necessary (it was the small towns around Boston that answered Paul Revere's call and came armed to Boston's defense). Change your heart Barack, not your words. Maybe in a few years you will be up to being President. Not now.

Hey, Obama fans, maybe it's time to heed that great sucking sound...and the whoosh that just accompanied it!

Congratulations MSM. Your effort to stick us with another Republican war monger seems to be working. Just keep up the find anything to attack Obama, and let McCain slide on everything strategy and you will succeed in giging us again.

How come when anything negative comes out on Obama, immediatly we get a blog defending him vigoriously? How many people think it is because he has hired and paid bloggers to defend him the instant something derogatory comes out ? Or is it really just some supporter waiting for a bad story to come out so he/she can defend him? Is this really how they get the message accross? It is very sad that a 'uniter" has to do this to carry on. Quite pathetic!

This poll was probably conducted by Mark Penn. get real no one is believing this b.s. that the media is spouting at us constantly. The Barack Obma supporters already know that the nomination is in the bag and that he won TEXAS unlike what Hillary and John the status quo candidates want us to believe. Barack Gets it and we get that Hillary is a first class liar and wants the focus off of her lies and on to his honest is misspoken comments. He worked minimum wage jobs to get himself through college and excelled. She is dong the dirty work for McCain hoping to leap frog McCain come the next round since she knows this one is over for her.


As a conservative small town Pennsylvania resident I will be sure to vote for Barack Obama on April 22 and in November after he wins the Democratic nomination. The main stream media will not stop Barack Obama by distorting and misinterpreting his words. Everyone knows he is the candidate of change but the old powers that be want stop him from being elected because they will lose power. We Pennsylvanians will not fall for the swiftboating of Barack Obama!!

I guess they couldn't handle the truth. Obama was stupidly honest.

I do think it's worth noting that for most of the cycle, ARG's sans OH, WI and TX, has done quite poorly in its polling.

One poll out of many, so who is ARG, why the small sample size,? Did Hillary pay for this poll?

Shame on you, this is the second time I've read hit pieces on your "blog" which is, by the way, a worthless pile of trash.

Obama's comments are the truth that no one wants to admit, especially the far right. The non issues such as abortion and gun control are used by the far right as cover for a disasterous war and deplorable economic conditons. A book published a few years ago goes into a lenghty discussion of this issue,
" What's the Matter with Kansas." It is refreshing to hear somoeone ( Obama) not afraid to tell it like it is.

This election cycle has truly showed me just how far off base you guys at the LA Times are. Every other poll says Obama is ahead of Clinton in polling and you guys just dismiss that data like it was yesterdays uh... news.

Reality check! Come back to Earth, plz.

Instead of blathering on about the "controversy" of Obama's remarks, why don't journalists get in their cars and drive out to the small towns to see if people really are bitter about their economic situation? If my experience is any guide, you'll find that a lot of them are, indeed, upset at how our government places the interests of transnational corporations above those of average working people. This whole episode is just another sorry example of how the media's "horse race" election coverage gives short shrift to issues that voters are really concerned about.

I was going to post a comment about Obama, but then I clicked through the "Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form" link and saw this:

"User Content License. For all User Content you post, upload, or otherwise make available ("Provide") to, you grant Tribune Interactive, Inc. ("TI"), its affiliates and related entities, including and its affiliated newspapers, Web sites, and broadcast stations, a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right and fully sub-licensable license to use, copy, reproduce, distribute, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, modify, adapt, translate, archive, store, and create derivative works from such User Content, in any form, format, or medium, of any kind now known or later developed. Without limiting the generality of the previous sentence, you authorize TI to share the User Content across all Web sites, newspapers, and broadcast stations affiliated with Tribune Company, to include the User Content in a searchable format accessible by users of and other TI Web sites, to place advertisements in close proximity to such User Content, and to use your name, likeness and any other information in connection with its use of the material you provide. You waive all moral rights with respect to any User Content you provide to You also grant TI the right to use any material, information, ideas, concepts, know-how or techniques contained in any communication you provide or otherwise submit to us for any purpose whatsoever, including but not limited to, commercial purposes, and developing, manufacturing and marketing commercial products using such information. All rights in this paragraph are granted without the need for additional compensation of any sort to you."

Would you also like my first born child, LA Times?

As mentioned above, Gallup, who has a FAR better record with regard to polling accuracy, does not reflect anything like what ARG found. But you know, don't bother caveating this with a note about how pathetic and frequently wrong ARG's polling is, because that would distract from the narrative.

Nice try. But we're not as stupid as you think.

Obama's TV blitz in Pennsylvania is hurting Obama more than helping. Through those ads, voters are seeing more, and dreaming less. Obama, I believe, would make a good president, as would Clinton. We can thank GW Bush for one thing. . . now we all know that neither Gore nor Kerry would have placed our country in such poor condition. We can take comfort in the fact that no one else could be as bad a president as has been GW Bush. Unless, of course, you'd be willing to gamble on John McCain.

Today it's Obama. Tomorrow it'll be Hillary. They both stink,..equally.
McCain is no better.
We all will lose this November.

I think that you should consider the source. Anybody can call themselves a pollster and publish numbers without a sound methodology. The blogger below has investigated ARG and found that they do not have a solid track record or a reputable organization:

To those who blame the media for Obama's problems think about what he has said and done.

He is being examined like any other candidate and the real Obama is just starting to show

What a dilema....Mrs William C. back for a third term, another 100 yesrs in Iraq, or a yuppy colored guy with pretty verbage. What a mess.

It's interesting that this whole episode is characterized by the press with the tag "bitter comment" when really the problem part is his use of "clinging" to religion, guns, anti-immigration. anti trade etc to describe why a portion of voters don't agree with him on these issues.
He was explaining that voters who don't agree with him on these issues are motivated by bitterness implying an irrational emotional basis for views that he opposes. This kind of attitude on his part demonstrates an unwillingness to think through the issues involved if he is going to dismiss the concerns of a large part of the electorate out of hand.

As someone who finds religion, my second amendment rights, a sensible trade policy and a functioning immigration policy to be important I find his remarks as someone who is simply "clinging" to these beliefs out of 'bitterness'-- implying there is no rational argument behind my beliefs--to be condescending and insulting.

In fact I'm not bitter at all--I'm a cheerful guy--I just think he's wrong and his remarks are indicative of the kind of snobbery I've heard before from Ivy League types when it comes to working class Americans.

Mr. Obama needs to realize that words have meaning. We are seeing a tendency in the words of Mr. Obama and his close friends and associates that is frightening. What he said was what he truly believed. There is no doubt about that. It is disappointing that every time someone points out his character flaws or areas of concern (racist friends and ties with criminals), people blame the old guard, not Mr. Obama. How people view us comes from our words, our actions, our appearance, and the company we keep. The "Old Guard" has no control over these things, but Mr. Obama does. He chooses his words and he chooses his close friends and allies.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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