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LAT Poll: Rev. Wright flap might have helped Barack Obama in Pa.

April 15, 2008 |  2:00 pm

Well, it was hard to see this one coming. A new L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll just released on the website found that 24% of likely Pennsylvania voters thought more highly of Barack Obama after his handling of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, while 15% said they thought less of him. The vast majority -- 58% -- said it made no difference.

The poll was conducted in the next three states to hold primaries -- Pennsylvania on April 22, and North Carolina and Indiana on May 6. In Indiana, reaction to Obama's handling of the controversy were slightly reversed, with 23% saying they thought less of him and 20% saying they thought more highly. But 56% said it had no effect. In North Carolina, 27% said they thought more highly, 20% said they thought less of Obama and 51% said it didn't matter.

And in what can only be seen as a message to the superdelegates who will likely decide who gets the Democratic nomination, majorities in all three states said they believe the superdelegates should back whichever candidate won the popular vote in the superdelegate's state. So much for the "vote your heart" argument.

There's some other interesting morsels in there too -- such as Obama closing to within five points of Clinton in Pennsylvania, though the poll was conducted April 10-14 while the "bitter" controversy was playing out. Obama also had a five-point lead in Indiana, a Rust Belt state that should be playing to Clinton's strength among working-class voters, and a 13-point lead in North Carolina. The leads in Pennsylvania and Indiana were within the poll's margin of error.

Another surprise: The number of undecideds. In Pennsylvania, 12% said they still didn't know for whom they were voting, a category that jumped to 19% in Indiana and 17% in North Carolina. That means in each state the undecideds exceeded the gap between the two contenders. 

-- Scott Martelle

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