As Obama eyes nomination, poll favours Hillary in swing states

May 23rd, 2008 - 11:12 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 23 (IANS) Even as likely Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama quietly began a search for a running mate, a new series of polls suggested rival Hillary Clinton is better positioned to win some swing states. The former first lady who is behind Obama on all counts - the number of delegates won, states won at primaries and caucuses and popular vote - has refused to bow out of the race and still hopes to persuade the party leadership to favour her arguing she is more “electable.”

Appearing to back Clinton’s argument, the Quinnipiac polls released Thursday suggest that she would beat presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in three crucial swing states of Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania by wide margins. Obama, on the other hand, would lose to the Arizona senator in Ohio and Florida and narrowly beat McCain in Pennsylvania.

According to Quinnipiac, the difference between Clinton and Obama’s performances in the state can be traced to the fact that several Clinton supporters and white working class voters there say they will support McCain over Obama if the Illinois senator is the party’s nominee.

“This could be an early-warning sign for the Democrats, particularly since Obama did not do well in the Pennsylvania and Ohio primaries,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “On the other hand, any poll conducted in May - particularly when the primaries have not finished - may have little predictive value.”

The last presidential candidate to win the White House without winning two of the three largest swing states was John F. Kennedy in 1960. (Kennedy won Pennsylvania that year, but lost Ohio and Florida.)

But the 2008 electoral map could look different than most recent elections, both the McCain and Obama campaigns have said. Each candidate has shown to strongly appeal to independent and moderate voters - meaning more states could be up for grabs this year than has been the case in past elections.

In another sign that Obama, who would be America’s first black president, is moving into the general election phase of his campaign, he quietly began his search for a running mate and made plans to travel to three other crucial swing states next week.

A veteran Democratic activist in Washington told CNN that former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson has accepted Obama’s request for him to begin a screening/selection process for the No. 2 spot. Johnson performed the same role in 2004 and 1984 for then-Democratic presidential nominees John Kerry and Walter Mondale.

The process was “at a very early point but that within the campaign itself they have been informally thinking about it for awhile,” CNN said citing the party insider. But Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton declined to comment on the report.

Obama campaign also confirmed his plans to make stops in Las Cruces, New Mexico Monday, the Las Vegas area Tuesday, and the Denver area Wednesday.

All three states lean Republican but have increasingly been up for grabs in recent presidential elections. In 2004, President George Bush beat John Kerry by 1 percentage point in New Mexico, by 5 points in Colorado, and by 3 points in Nevada.

The Obama campaign has argued that his appeal to independent and moderate voters will play well with voters in these key Western states.

Meanwhile, McCain will meet this weekend with the first Indian American US governor Bobby Jindal along with two others long rumoured to be on his vice presidential shortlist, though senior advisers insist the visit is just a social one. Besides Louisiana Governor Jindal, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are visiting McCain at his home in Arizona.

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