Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Barack Obama scores well in new Pew poll

March 27, 2008 |  4:14 pm

The controversy over various incendiary remarks by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has for the most part "not hurt" Democrat Barack Obama's campaign for president, one of the nation's top pollsters says, based on his organization's latest survey.

"Obama’s lead over Hillary Clinton remains as wide as it was in late February,'' says Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, and "both Obama and Clinton continue to run slightly ahead of (John) McCain in a general election matchup.''

In the battle for the Democratic presidential nod, Obama was backed by 49% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters surveyed and Clinton by 39% (the error margin for this part of the poll was plus or minus 5.5 percentage points).

Some caveats ...

Other recent polls, including this one for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, have been less positive for Obama, especially in gauging the status of  his race with Clinton.  Also, the Pew poll was conducted from last Wednesday (3/19) through Saturday -- meaning many were questioned in the immediate afterglow of Obama's generally well-received speech on race relations.

Perhaps most importantly, all the surveys took place before the latest discovery of an intemperate phrase -- this one directed at Italians -- from Wright, Obama's longtime pastor.

As Newsday's Spin Cycle blog puts it, Wright expounds on "a two-millennium grudge against the sons and daughters of Rome" in an article he penned for a magazine for which he is listed as CEO and his daughter, Jeri Wright, serves as publisher.  Specifically, the preacher wrote:  Jesus' "enemies had their opinion about Him.... The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans."

Still, comments by Kohut ...

will be welcomed by Obama and his partisans.

"The new polling suggests that the Wright affair has not hurt Obama’s standing, in part because his response to the controversy has been viewed positively by voters who favor him over Clinton,'' Kohut said.

He added: "Obama’s handling of the Wright controversy also won a favorable response from a substantial proportion of Clinton supporters, and even a third of Republican voters.''

See the Pew poll here.

-- Mark Silva and Don Frederick

Mark Silva writes for the Swamp of the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau.