Hillary reclaims lead over Obama in Gallup poll

March 21st, 2008 - 12:27 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 21 (IANS) Former first lady Hillary Clinton has reclaimed the lead from Barack Obama in the race for Democratic presidential nomination for the first time since early February, a new national poll suggests. Clinton, hoping to be the first woman president, holds a seven point lead - 49 to 42 percent - over Obama who would be the first black US chief executive, according to Thursday’s Gallup daily tracking poll. This lead is outside the poll’s statistical margin of error of three points - the widest gap between the two candidates in weeks.

Clinton’s last lead was in a Gallup poll taken just after the Feb 5 Super Tuesday contests, and the two candidates have been statistically tied since. But Obama has held a numerical lead over Clinton for most of that time, and started to decline in the tracking poll late last week - a sign the uproar over his former pastor’s provocative sermons may be taking its toll.

The latest tracking poll was conducted March 14-18, almost entirely before Obama gave a widely praised speech on his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and race relations in America.

But according to Gallup’s Jeff Jones, “the initial indications are that the speech has not halted Clinton’s gaining momentum as she led by a similar margin in Tuesday night’s polling as compared to Monday night’s polling”.

A new Gallup poll also showed apparent Republican presidential nominee John McCain leading both Democrats - a sign Clinton and Obama’s continued back-and-forth is benefiting the Arizona senator.

McCain holds a four-point lead over Obama (47-43 percent) and three point lead over Clinton (48-45 percent). That poll had a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

The poll was a snapshot of current popular feeling, but Clinton trails Obama in the state-by-state contest for delegates that began in January. The nominees are formally chosen by delegates at the parties’ conventions in the summer.

Clinton had hoped to try to chip away at Obama’s delegate lead with a rerun of Michigan’s contested Democratic presidential primary. But a Clinton-backed “do-over” proposal effectively died in the Michigan legislature when lawmakers adjourned without considering the plan.

Obama opposed rerunning the Michigan primary. The Michigan and Florida Democratic primaries were invalidated because both states ignored party directives and held their balloting before Feb 5.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has doubled her lead in Pennsylvania, the next Democratic battleground that holds its primary April 22 and now has a majority of Democrats’ support, according to another new poll.

Clinton now leads Obama 51 percent to 35 percent among likely Democratic primary voters, according to the Franklin and Marshall College Poll. In February, the same poll found that Clinton was ahead by half that margin, 44 percent to 37 percent.

The Franklin and Marshall survey comes on the heels of a poll released by Quinnipiac University Tuesday. It also showed Clinton doubling her lead, with 53 percent to 41 percent over Obama this week, up from 49 percent to 43 percent in late February.

The Franklin and Marshall poll was conducted in Pennsylvania after the controversial video of the sermons by Obama’s former pastor was widely aired on television and the Internet.

Another survey of likely Democratic primary voters on March 15 and 16, by Public Policy Polling, showed Clinton with a 56 percent to 30 percent lead over Obama. In that, as in the Franklin and Marshall survey, Clinton was making small inroads among blacks, winning 27 percent of their support. She led 63 percent to 23 percent among whites.

Before this month, Obama was gaining ground in Pennsylvania. But it now appears he has returned to a distant second.

The Clinton campaign hopes to make the Pennsylvania contest a referendum on Obama’s electability. Obama still has more delegates, and his campaign is looking beyond Pennsylvania to later primary contests, in part because they view Clinton’s advantages in the state as difficult to surmount.

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