Hillary Clinton could make difference in tight presidential race: Poll

June 7th, 2008 - 11:45 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 7 (IANS) As Hillary Clinton prepared to throw her weight behind presumptive Democratic nominee Barrack Obama, a new poll suggested that she could make the difference in a neck-and-neck presidential race with Republican John McCain. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, the first conducted entirely after Obama clinched the party nomination Tuesday, shows he leads McCain 49 percent to 46 percent among registered voters-a statistical tie, given the question’s 3-point margin of error.

But the former first lady, who is expected to “strongly support” Obama’s presidential campaign during an event at noon Saturday, could add about 3 percentage points to an Obama-Clinton “dream ticket”, the poll indicated.

Democratic voters appear to like an Obama-Clinton ticket, it suggested noting that over half of them, 54 percent, would support a joint ticket, but 43 percent would oppose it. A hypothetical Obama-Clinton ticket would currently get 52 percent of the vote, compared with 46 percent for a hypothetical McCain ticket with former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney.

But if Clinton is not on the ticket, 60 percent of her Democratic supporters said they would vote for Obama, 17 percent would vote for McCain, and 22 percent would stay at home in November and not vote for anyone.

“That’s just one estimate of the ‘Clinton factor,’ ” said CNN polling director Keating Holland, “and it may not be an accurate predictor since it piles several hypotheticals on top of each other and asks people to guess their state of mind five months from now.

“Nonetheless, it does indicate that unmotivated Clinton supporters may be a bigger risk to Obama than defections from the Clinton camp to McCain.”

Thus whether Hillary Clinton can begin to unite the Democrats after a bitter and divisive primary season that stretched over nearly 18 months and 57 contests may be crucial to the party’s success in the November presidential election.

Obama and his former rival discussed how to begin unifying the party during a meeting Thursday night in the Washington home of California Senator Dianne Feinstein shortly after Clinton disavowed a campaign by her supporters to make her his vice presidential mate.

Former presidential adviser David Gergen said the meeting may have helped relieve some of the tension that has arisen between the two parties since Tuesday night, noting that there was “some awkwardness about how each of them was handling this.”

“I think that was very wise of her, after talking to a variety of people, to recognise what she did on Tuesday night and the way her supporters have been trying to pressure him is backfiring.”

The Clinton camp had made it widely known that she would accept the No. 2 slot if it was offered, but the push by her supporters was viewed as putting undue pressure on Obama to pick his former rival.

Obama said Thursday that “everybody needs to settle down” and let the vetting process run its course.

“It’s important that this be done in a careful, methodical way. We’re not going to be rushed into making any pick, whomever that might be,” Obama’s communications director, Robert Gibbs, told MSNBC.

The extent of Clinton’s endorsement will be crucial to the Obama camp as she gained more than 17 million voters during the Democratic battle, and Obama will need many of those to defeat Republican McCain in November.

As Donna Brazile, a member of the Democratic National Committee, said it was important after the hard-fought primary season that Obama and Clinton work to promote reconciliation. “There’s a lot of healing to be done,” she told CNN.

“[Obama] wants to do everything possible to ensure Clinton, her supporters, her donors, the voters who went to the polls to cast their ballots, that he will champion their cause, he will fight for their issues, and, of course, he will earn their support,” Brazile said.

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